Washington Stage Guild Presents MAJOR BARBARA Beginning This Month

Performances begin November 17 - 19 with four Pay-What-You-Can previews and run until December 11, 2022.

By: Nov. 02, 2022

-The Washington Stage Guild continues its 2022-2023 season, a "Season of Transitions," with Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Associate Artistic Director Steven Carpenter. Performances begin November 17 - 19 with four Pay-What-You-Can previews and run until December 11, 2022 at the Washington Stage Guild's home, The Undercroft Theatre in the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Opening/Press performance is Sunday, November 20 at 2:30 pm.

The arms trade and The Salvation Army collide in Major Barbara, Shaw's play about faith, morality, and family battles. As a Major in London's Salvation Army, idealistic and strong-minded young Barbara Undershaft seeks only to help the poor. When her estranged father, Andrew Undershaft, unexpectedly reappears as a rich, successful munitions maker and offers money to Major Barbara's cause, it leads to a tense family battle over who is helping society more through their cause. Last seen at WSG in a 2001 Helen Hayes Award-nominated production, this new production will take a fresh look at this always-timely dissection of power and compassion.

"George Bernard Shaw has long been our 'company' playwright, and Major Barbara was our first show nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Production, so it's a special joy to revisit this masterpiece after so many years," says Artistic Director Bill Largess. "How wonderful to find it as relevant now as it was in both 1905 and 2001--maybe even more so."

"While I feel I know Major Barbara well, having performed in it twice, there are still passages that surprise me in their timeliness, and moralities explored that mystify me in their certitude and relevance," states director Steven Carpenter."Indeed, we return to Shaw at the WSG time and again because of that relevance and I'm eager to see how my take on this play today will reflect the volatile times we're living in and resonate with contemporary audiences."

Playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), known at his insistence simply as Bernard Shaw, was an Irish playwright, critic, polemicist and political activist. His influence on Western theatre, culture and politics extended from the 1880s to his death and beyond. He wrote more than sixty plays. With a range incorporating both contemporary satire and historical allegory, Shaw became the leading dramatist of his generation, and in 1925 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Major Barbara was written and premiered in 1905 and first published in 1907. Its Broadway premiere in the United States was at the Playhouse Theatre on December 1915.

Washington Stage Guild has produced 26 of Shaw's plays (including several one act plays).

The cast of Major Barbara includes WSG founding company member Laura Giannarelli as Lady Britomart/Rummy/Mrs. Baines (performed in more than 40 WSG productions including The Nibroc Trilogy, Pygmalion, An Ideal Husband, Humble Boy, and The Unexpected Man, Studio Theatre's The Long Christmas Ride Home, Everyman Theatre's Doubt, Theater J's Pangs of the Messiah, and previously directed The Good Doctor, It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Widowers' Houses, and Candida for the company), as well as Frank Britton as Morrison/Peter Shirley/Bilton (Helen Hayes Award for 1st Stage's Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, Baltimore CenterStage's Our Town, Imagination Stage's P. Nokio, WSG's Back To Methuselah: As Far As Thought Can Reach); Justino Brokaw as Stephen Undershaft/Bill Walker (Classic Theatre of Maryland's As You Like It and The Servant of Two Masters, Camden Shakespeare Festival's Twelfth Night); Marie Claire Lyon as Sarah Undershaft/Jenny Hill (DC debut, recent graduate of the Shakespeare Theater Company's Academy of Classical Acting; regional work includes Steel Magnolias, Doubt, and Macbeth); Steven Patrick Martin as Andrew Undershaft (Round House Theatre's Glengarry Glen Ross, various productions with Arena Stage, CenterStage, Ford's Theatre, Theater J among others); Hunter Ringsmith as Charles Lomax/Snobby Price (Folger Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bridge Street Theatre's Clarkston, New Swan Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice); Benjamin Russell as Adolphus Cusins (WSG's Sam and Dede, Bedlam's Sense & Sensibililty at A.R.T., Metropolitan Playhouse's Radium Girls); Emelie Faith Thompson as Barbara Undershaft (Off-Broadway in Night Games and A.A. Milne's The Ugly Duckling, Virginia Rep's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and MAMMA MIA!, title role in WSG's Candida, WSG's Resolving Hedda).

Major Barbara is directed by WSG Associate Artistic Director Steven Carpenter. This is Steven's first foray into directing Shaw. He helmed WSG's Sam & Dede, Resolving Hedda, Red Herring, Opus, and The Underpants, among others, as well as regional productions including God of Carnage at Compass Rose, The Cripple of Inishmaan at 1st Stage, The Price and ART at Bay Theatre, Barrymore, Hysteria and Trumbo for Rep Stage, The Chosen at Theater J, and Thief River at Theater Alliance for which he received a Helen Hayes Award nomination. His recent performances with WSG include Memoirs of a Forgotten Man, Bloomsday and Hard Times.

The production team includes Megan Holden (Scenic Design), Marianne Meadows (Lighting Design), Maria Bissex(Costume Design), Marcus Darnley (Sound Design), Paul Hope (Fight Choreography), and Arthur Nordlie (Production Stage Manager).