Ask Philippa: CANDIDA Edition


Top to bottom: Anthony Fusco, Julie Eccles, and Nick Gabriel in CANDIDA; photo by Kevin Berne.

Philippa Kelly, Resident Dramaturg for Cal Shakes, shares her thoughts and answers your questions on our 2011 productions.

Written early in Shaw’s dramatic career, when he was about 38 (he would not stop writing till his death in his mid-90s!), Candida belongs to the time of his life when he idealized women as Madonna figures. Not the Raphaelite figures whom he described as dumbly bovine, but the “Shavian” Madonnas, beautiful, quick-witted and hardworking, unafraid to clean sinks and carpets. On a lovely sunny October morning, Shaw presents Candida (his Madonna) with an unexpected choice that comes seemingly from nowhere, and yet which forces her to reflect on her marriage and, indeed, on her whole life.

Are you going to see our production of Candida? Do you have questions or comments about the production’s themes, creative choices, or anything else? Please leave them in the comments, and I’ll be sure to respond.

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7 Responses to Ask Philippa: CANDIDA Edition

  1. David Nasatir says:

    HI Philippa:
    Great Inside Scoop tonight. I noted your comment about couches and was reminded of the role of the couch in “Freud’s Last Session” by Mark St. Germain currently running at the Marjorie S., Dean Little Theater in the West Side YMCA, 5 West 63rd Street, New York, NY., originally produce at Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield, MA, Julianne Boyd Artistic Director. The Set Design is by Brian Prather and the set is, I believe, a replica of Freud’s study at 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, NW, London on 3 September, 1939. The couch, of course, is a character in this play and how it is displayed and used by the other characters is creative and useful. Might be fun to think of the couch in Candida as a character and see what happens.

  2. Philippa Kelly says:

    Hello David,
    Thanks for this great and fertile email. In a sense I think the set is always something of a character (if not a foil for character); and especially the couch, with the stolid impregnability of it. Thank you for coming last night and helping to make it a great night. It was really nice to talk with you for a moment afterwards, and I am glad you wrote this so that I can look up the play.

  3. Douglas Evans says:

    I greatly enjoyed the recent production of Candida. For the entr’acte music I recognized a lot of John Adams, but couldn’t place the other composer. Could you help?

  4. Philippa Kelly says:

    Hello Douglas,
    The other composer is none other than my husband Paul Dresher (and I had nothing at all to do with the selection of this music, I should add. It is one of my favorite pieces, though – RACER’, which is the third movement of a piece called ELAPSED TIME.’)

  5. Haskel says:

    Shaw’s final stage direction, although it cannot be directed on stage, says that “they do not know the
    secret in the poet’s heart.” Are we supposed to know? Is this the “mystery” of the play’s subtitle, one that cannot be definitively known?

    But enough of Shaw. For next season and after, please consider plays by Shakespeare’s contemporaries and successors such as Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, Marston and Webster. I loved your production of Titus Andronicus, but these playwrights and others wrote many plays as good and better.

  6. Philippa Kelly says:

    Hello Haskel,

    This is lovely tease, isn’t it? The mystery in the poet’s heart is the mystery of art – what it does, how it affects people, this is a kind of mystery because it moves us in ways that are sometimes so profound, and sometimes even antithetical to who we think we are. Marchbanks, the young artist, has come in and suddenly changed the way in which Candida and Morrell see themselves and each other – he is the prism of art through which their lives are refocused. What is Marchbanks thinking of at the end (and I can’t say here what happens at the end in case people read this blog before seeing the show.) Is he glad of the outcome? Unhappy? Or do gladness or unhappiness not really enter into the heart of his mystery?

    Thanks also for your suggestion.

  7. Neil Sitzman says:

    I first posted on the grove talk section but perhaps this is where you will find my address for the actor packet. Enjoy your trip and we look forward to seeing you on your return. Neil

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