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 letters 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.
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW:
PLAYING THE CLOWN
SHAW SOCIETY, HOLBORN Affectionately captures the humour and spirit of Shaw..
PENZANCE LITERARY FESTIVAL Informative, and with terrific pace, variety and humour.
THE SHAVIAN. Editor Philip Riley. A very refreshing and accomplished rendition of Shaw’s life.
GUILDFORD INSTITUTE Highly entertaining and extremely informative.
BARNES ARTS CENTRE I could happily sit through that again.
DAWLISH ARTS FESTIVAL (left) 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 (left) Wonderful performance. Great show. Excellent.
TORQUAY MUSEUM They really loved it. Wonderful.
BRISTOL NATIONAL TRUST CENTRE Witty, entertaining and informative.
SARUM U3A Fantastic talk: wonderful presentation.
BUDE U3A Impressive, entertaining, absolutely loved the ending.
WORTHING U3A Congratulations. Fantastic presentation; kept us enthralled
NEWQUAY U3A (LANE THEATRE) Cleverly written. Captivating. Excellent.
EXE VALLEY U3A . . .warm and impressive understanding of the great man.
FARNINGHAM & EYNSFORD L.H.S. You were great (and your book is wonderful).
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.
GBS: PLAYING THE CLOWN premiered at the PENZANCE LITERARY FESTIVAL 18 July 2013
NOVEMBER 2020 WAS THE 70th ANNIVERSARY OF SHAW’S DEATH, AND HIS WORKS ARE NOW OUT OF COPYRIGHT; THERE WILL BE A RESURGENCE OF INTEREST IN HIS STORY.
A GOOD TIME TO BOOK ‘PLAYING THE CLOWN’?