Bernard Shaw’s Admirable Bashville: Playwright and Prizefighter
Bernard Shaw’s little blank-verse play, The Admirable Bashville, or, Constancy Unrewarded is a play where two types of performance, sport and drama, interact on the stage. It was written in 1901 and it was performed three times in London under Shaw's auspices in 1901, in 1904, and in January-February 1909. Its next performance was in Vienna in 1924; then it was performed in Sydney in 1927. Shaw was an enthusiastic admirer of the bare - knuckled art of fighting, though he has written Bashville as a portrait of a period when this art was disapearing to be replaced by the noble art of boxing, under the new Queenberry’s rulling. This essay examines both the play itself, throwing new lights over obscur characters of the play, such as Cetewayo the Black African king, and even over Bashville, the prize-fighter. As copyrights laws of that period did not guarantee Shaw’s rights over his works, the paper shows Shaw’s attempts to keep the copyrights over his work, by performing the play as many times and under any conditions. Under copyright laws he could lose all his rights if the play were performed by other producers beforehand. The Admirable Bashville is a minor play by a major playwright, and Shaw never pretended it was anything more.
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