Arms and the Man

In celebration of Bernard Shaw’s 150th birthday
starring Christopher Buchholz
06 Nov - 22 Dec 2006
I feel very privileged to have been asked to direct Arms and the Man. It is one of Shaw’s most accessible plays and is both amusing and thought-provoking. The script seems as fresh and up-to-date as when he wrote it over a hundred years ago. Shaw does not simply comment on the temporary injustices or passing follies of his own generation, but highlights the human characteristics which last from generation to generation.

Arms and the Man is set in Bulgaria in 1885, during the short war between Bulgaria and Serbia, but the historical context is not really important. The Bulgarian setting makes an attractive stage picture which is appealing, but once Shaw has captured our attention he makes us think, and as a reward for thinking he also makes us laugh! It is fascinating to see how throughout this play Shaw uses the stage conventions of his day and cleverly re-invents them for his own purpose. He wants to show us vitality and common sense ‘winning’ over artificial codes of behaviour and wants us to live according to what is useful and life-giving instead of what is correct and proper or moral.

Premiered in 1894, Arms and the Man has proved to be one of Shaw’s most popular plays. Indeed, at the end of the first performance there were enthusiastic cries for the author to come on stage. When Shaw appeared however, there was a single boo amongst the applause; Shaw said to the booer “I quite agree with you, my friend, but what are we two against so many?”

I have very much enjoyed working with such a talented group of actors on this witty and brilliant play. I hope you will enjoy watching Arms and the Man as much as we have enjoyed rehearsing it.

Philip Dart