Letters between George Bernard Shaw and actor Ellen Pollock form the basis of a play to be performed this weekend
09 May, 2019 — By Dan Carrier
The correspondence of George Bernard Shaw has been turned into a play
ACTOR, director, producer Ellen Pollock’s theatrical abilities crossed disciplines and her skill was such that she became a favourite of George Bernard Shaw.
Pollack, who began her stage career at the Everyman theatre, Hampstead, in 1920, appeared as the lead in a number of Shaw’s plays and became his friend.
Now the letters between the pair – many previously unpublished – have been turned into a play due to be performed this weekend called Affectionately, Ellen. Ever, GBS by the chairwoman of the Shaw Society, Dr Anne Wright.
And she will never forget meeting Ellen in 1969.
“I was a post grad and writing a PhD on Shaw’s works,” she recalls.
“Ellen was performing at Shaw’s home in Ayot St Lawrence and I was overwhelmed by her. She was so perfect.
“Her long stage, film and TV career embraced farce, Grand Guignol, and serious drama including Shakespeare – and as President of the Shaw Society she continued to promote Shaw all her life.”
And while Ellen was a household name in her lifetime – and was given such honours as being on Desert Island Discs and the TV show This Is Your Life, she is no longer so well known – something The Shaw Society believe should be rectified.
Now, using material from Ellen’s personal archive, the audience is given a unique insight into their friendship – and can hear Shaw’s voice come alive once more.
“Their correspondence is often funny, sometimes argumentative, finally poignant, and always true to Shaw’s inimitable style,” says Anne.
The letters come from Ellen’s son’s personal archive – and he is due to come and see the play, which stars Highbury-based actress Laura Fitzpatrick.
“I’m sure this will be quite emotional for him,” adds Anne. “He was devoted to his mother, and treasured her archive over the years – for which I am very grateful.”
• Affectionately, Ellen. Ever, GBS is at the John Thaw Studio, The Actors’ Centre, 1A Tower Street WC2H 9NP on Sunday, May 12 at 2.30pm. Entrance Shaw Society members £10, guests and non-members £12. Future performances will include Shaw’s Arms and the Man at Lauderdale House, Waterlow Park, from July 15-19. See www.shawsociety.org.uk