Most of my writing has been commissioned by companies or devised in the studio with actors (my favourite approach). I'm lazy with stage directions and usually figure that I can talk to the director and fix problems on stage – but then I end up moving on to new projects before I get around to updating the script — so I don't have a lot of polished, edited stage versions. My writing usually plays better than it reads, but I’m working on that!
Faust collage detail.
The scripts here are copyright free (with the exception of The Demi Monde which I’m still tinkering with). If you want to use one, just email me and let me know..
The adaptations are quite widely used in classrooms and discussion forums, particularly Faust and the Human Genome a fantasia in seven scenes on the ethical legal and social implications of genomic biotechnology. Mr. Shaw has been read aloud by several reading clubs in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania. Aphra Behn's The Rover is an adaptation I did for Memorial University Newfoundland, that edits her great play down to a tight ninety minutes, sets it among International Brigade soldiers in the Spanish Civil War in the period between their demobilization and the outbreak of the second world war. It foregrounds the male-female and male-male gender tensions that Aphra struggled with. I found the choice of setting opened up the politics of the play, making the Royalist problems as visible as the pandering to the king..
Mr. Shaw Interviews HImself, adapted from Bernard Shaw's lesser known stories, essays, letters
The Demi Monde, a savage adaptation of the play by Alexandre Dumas-fils-- (opening monologue)
The Rover, adapted for 1938 from Aphra Behn's glorious Restoration drama
SHAW: The Star newspaper, 1892. The playwright interviews himself on his first play.... [creative pause, typewriter starts again.] ... I am an experienced Interviewer; but I confess that when the Star Editor directed me to tackle myself on the subject of the play I have written for the Independent Theatre, I felt nervous.
EDITOR: Keep to the point,
SHAW: ...said the Editor.
EDITOR: Be firm, or you will talk your head off without once alluding to the play.
SHAW (quaking inwardly]: You may rely on me sir.
EDITOR: (calling after him): And Shaw! Whatever you do, don 't mention Shakespeare!
[suspenseful travelling music]
SHAW: I went off to my well-known number in Fitzroy Square, and arrived there at half past eleven in the morning. Entering with trepidation, I climbed up some desolate stone steps to the second floor...
[Download Shaw Interview script, pdf ]
Prologue: The Facts
The Dawn of a New Age. Five scientists in white lab coats stand silhouetted
against a red sky. A mechanical drone sounds in security scan pulses.
VOICE OVER: Fact: The sequencing of the Human Genome was recently completed.
[The Scientists move slowly downstage.]
VOICE OVER: Fact: We have the theory and the technology to clone a new human.
[5 apples appear mid-air, to dangle before each Scientist.]
VOICE OVER: Fact: The law forbids it. (pause)
Please, do not wipe your feet. We are all scientists here.
[Rock music blasts. The Scientists ponder the nature of the apples.
Suddenly one of them grabs his apple, holds it aloft, then crouches
to defend it from the others.] ...
[Download Faust script, pdf ]
ACT ONE: Prologue
Paris. 1885. The Death Aria of La Traviata. Violetta, on her highest note, is smacked by the Translator. After a moment’s horror, he speaks out, apologetically:
TRANSLATOR: Mesdames, Messieurs. Je vous en prie. Please to banish from your minds this maudlin bagatelle, this shameful deceit, this unfortunate succs du scandale of my client M. Dumas-fils, which he himself assures me, he wishes to forget! What can we say about this unfortunate woman and her wilted camelias, other than that her misfortune, like her consumption, appears to be infectious. Indeed, her representation on our stages daguerrotypes with fearsome fidelity a female type that is rotting the fabric of our society; a type that is more prevalent among us than we realize, a type that my client now wishes to make the target of his moral scorn.
How can one recognize this type today, when nobility, honour and decency are disguised
by glittering appearances? Behold, M. Dumas offers you a guide. Olivier de Jalin is a
gentleman of marriagable age and fortune, who seeks to live honourably, despite the traps
and pitfalls of a decadent society. He passes equally in high and low society, satisfied
with neither, for virtue tarnishes, wives philander, and desperate women become
Good day, Madame la Contesse de Vernieres
He gives the audience a look that says:(Speak of the Devil!)She is unable to avoid him.
COUNTESS: How do you do? I would request, dear Sir, that you not mention seeing me at this particular door; pray do not speak my name so loudly nor delay me here in conversation.
TRANSLATOR: Countess, I presume only to wish you fortune in preventing this scandalous duel. He gives the audience a look that says (We will begin and end with a duel!)
TRANSLATOR: I beg your pardon, Countess…Madame. Good day!
Martin invites the COUNTESS to step through the door to OLIVIER’S house.
[Download more of Demi Monde* ]
* if interested in the entire script, please contact me for a copy.
[Gudrun sits in the hospital Intensive Care, next to her grandson, who is in a coma and on life-support. In her capacious carry-bag she has a bottle of Nembutal and a syringe with a life-threatening dose of lithium suspension. She speaks deliberately and with an Icelandic accent.]
GUDRUN: Jack's illness was a musical problem, it started young. As each sign of life opened on to other signs, his actions rang the emigrants cry: "I must go far". He lived through computers from a young age, now one has swallowed him. Is this how far you could come Jack, is this it?
Crazy boy, my grandson. Storm-forced, god-driven I don't know — but greed led him by the nose. His slightest move — a kiss — was savage, carved out fifty futures — every plan so clever, so devious. ...
[Download Gudrun script, pdf ]
Rosa is 'a certain kind of woman' as they said in the 50's, and likely a man in fine drag. She sits high up at the bar . Gloves, hat with a little veil: she drinks stiff martinis.
Love Jimmy?...love is a racehorse -- you bet on the form but you check out the going... Hey. Check out bein’ checked out... Nice young fella? Worth a flutter?
[She takes out a coin from her impractical accessory bag and stands.]
All eyes on the Lonely Nag, oestrogen-a-swagger, 'coz when I step to the juke-box, the silence is for me. Eyes flick away, flesh tingles, I'm hot! How the competition hate me. Yoo hoo, its Natural Selection Time, and "Sniff this suckers!": Slow Torture is the perfume Tonight's Winner trails behind; and here he comes, oh piston-pelvis saviour-boy and, " Can I join you feature creature?" Quel surprise, I'm special guest on the Macho Dink show, and "Naked is the best disguise" and we, putative heterosexuals, line dance and mud wrestle...
[Download Ladies Night script, pdf ]
Act One, Scene One: Naples, in Carnival Time, 1938. A Chamber
Enter Florinda, Valeria and Hellena, who tries to spy a Letter of Florinda.
Florinda: What an impertinent thing is a young girl bred in a Nunnery! How full of Questions! No more, I tell you Hellena; I have told you more than you can understand already.
Hellena: That's my problem: if I want to know, I must be inquisitive; neither is it enough to know you're a Lover, unless you tell me who it is you sigh for.
Florinda: When you are a Lover, I'll think you fit for a Secret of that nature.
Hellena: It's true, I've never been a Lover yet-- but I begin to have a shrewd Guess what it's to be so, and fancy it very fine to sigh, and blush and wish, and dream and wish, and long and wish to see "the Man"; and when I do, look pale and tremble; just as you did when my brother brought home the fine English Comrade to see you--what do you call him? Don Belvile?
Valeria: That Blush betrays her--I am sure' tis he--or is it Don Antonio the Fascist Governor's son--Or perhaps the rich old Don Vincentio, whom our father designs for her husband? Why do you blush again?
Florinda: With Indignation; and however near our Father thinks I am to marrying that hated Object, I shall let him see I understand better what's due to my Beauty, Birth and Fortune, and more to my Soul, than to obey those unjust Commands.
[Download Rover script, pdf ]