Seeing a production of Shaw’s play Man and Superman at the Bristol Old Vic during the early weeks of his National Service encouraged Brian to consider the theatre as a potential career: three weeks after demobilisation he started work at the London Palladium. Large chunks of the next twenty years were spent touring abroad, usually for the British Council,
often with plays by or about G B Shaw.

Wanting a more substantial Talk that might suit Arts and Literary Festivals, Arts Centres and Theatres, Brian conceived this presentation. He is both narrator and player, adding memories of his overseas tours to his light-hearted chronicles of the life, the works, the correspondence and the complicated personal relationships of the “best playwright since Shakespeare”.

Shaw called the clown “the best part of the circus” and wrote “all my life I have been merely playing the clown”. Mrs Patrick Campbell always started her letter to him “Dear Joey”, a reference to that other great clown Joseph Grimaldi.
PLAYINGTHE CLOWN tells Shaw’s story with respect, with admiration, and - as Shaw himself always told it - with humour.

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GEORGE BERNARD SHAW:

PLAYING THE CLOWN

GBS: PLAYING THE CLOWN premiered at the PENZANCE LITERARY FESTIVAL 18 July 2013

SHAW SOCIETY, HOLBORN       Captures the humour and spirit of Shaw: an accomplished presentation.
GUILDFORD INSTITUTE              Highly entertaining and extremely informative.
BARNES ARTS CENTRE              I could happily sit through that again.
DAWLISH ARTS FESTIVAL          Brilliant. Excellent evening.
LAUNCESTON LITERARY FESTIVAL   Thanks for a great performance.
BREWHOUSE ARTS CENTRE, TAUNTON    Brilliant. Most enjoyable evening.
EASTBOURNE MEADS U3A     Sets a new standard for Brian’s fellow-speakers.
WEST SOMERSET NATIONAL TRUST ASSOCIATION, MINEHEAD     A cracker.
EASTBOURNE MEADS LADIES CIRCLE   Most enjoyable.  You made Shaw alive for us.
LINEN HALL LIBRARY, BELFAST   I now feel I know the real G B Shaw.
KNOLE U3A    Fascinating performance. Held the audience enthralled and entertained. Excellent.
PORTSMOUTH NATIONAL TRUST CENTRE     Interesting; informative; entertaining.
WHARF THEATRE, TAVISTOCK   They really loved it. Please come again soon.
TOTNES U3A              Delightfully animated insight into the life of GBS. Packed house. He’ll be back.
WADHURST PROBUS CLUB         Absolutely brilliant.
NORTH HANTS NATIONAL TRUST ASSOCIATION    One of the best speakers we’ve ever had.

WELLS U3A                                   Excellent inspirational talk. A real ‘tour de force’.
FRANCE GRANDE BRETAGNE ASSOCIATION     Brought Shaw to life before our very eyes.
BYRE THEATRE, ST ANDREWS   We learnt a lot and laughed a lot. An impressive performance.
HAMBLE VALLEY U3A                 The best talk we’ve ever had.
OVERTON U3A                             A delight. You really brought GBS to life.
WESTERHAM FINE ARTS SOCIETY     A delightful variation to our usual lecture.
BATH U3A                                     That was a bloody good talk. Well done.
PENWITH NATIONAL TRUST ASSOCIATION     Evoked the feeling that the  great man was indeed with us.
PETERSFIELD U3A                       Unique; different; a pleasant change. Entertaining and most enjoyable.
BATTLE U3A                                 Delightful, enlightening and fascinating
SEVENOAKS PROBUS CLUB      A bravura performance
BEAMINSTER FESTIVAL              Wonderful performance.  Great show.  Excellent.

 

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PLAYING THE CLOWN is a performance, not a talk. It needs a ‘performance space’ (not necessarily a stage) and cannot be done from behind a lectern or dining table. The running time is normally around 60 minutes; this can be trimmed - or extended into a two-act version with interval for theatre performances. We supply all the furniture and props.
If a microphone is thought necessary - or required for a loop system - then it should be ‘hands-free’.

GBS: PLAYING THE CLOWN - IN FRANCE.
Brian Freeland’s one-man-show was a great success. His intention is to entertain and inform us on the life of George Bernard Shaw, the writer and philosopher. With the aid of little more than an armchair and a carafe of water Brian morphs seamlessly from his role as narrator to that of the great man himself. His English voice transforms into a higher Irish brogue to deliver the ideas, thoughts and bon mots of GBS. The audience was delighted by this performance which brought the famous Irishman to life before our very eyes. We could almost see the beard.
The France Grande Bretagne Association, Orleans: 26th May 2015

GBS: PLAYING THE CLOWN at KELMSCOTT MANOR
On Saturday 28th May 2016 there was a very special performance of Playing The Clown in the
 Morris Memorial Hall at Kelmscott Manor, the inspirational Cotswold retreat of Shaw’s
 friend and fellow-Socialist, William Morris.
The Hall’s 1934 opening ceremony had been performed by G B Shaw himself. “I am glad to be here, and to feel the spirit of Morris” he said. I too was delighted to be there and to feel the spirit of Shaw.

press clown 1
Beaminst Master
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