Man and Superman
A Comedy and a Philosophy
By George Bernard Shaw
Written during 1901 and 1903
First presented in 1905
First presented in its entirety 1915
Host: Jeremy McCarter
Produced and directed by David Staller.
Act I: Portland Place. Roebuck Ramsden’s Study.
Act II: Richmond. The Avenue to Mrs. Whitefield’s House.
Act III: Scene 1: Evening in the Sierra Nevada.
THERE WILL BE ONE BRIEF (ten minute) INTERVAL
ACT III: Scene 2: Hell.
Scene 3: Early Morning in the Sierra Nevada.
Act IV: Granada. The Villa Garden.
TIME: The Present. (1905)
‘A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it: it would be hell on earth’
Man and Superman is one of Shaw's most celebrated and devilishly witty plays. Mr. Staller has trimmed the play from five to three hours to allow for inclusion of the famous interior act known as ‘Don Juan in Hell.’
In Man and Superman Shaw explores the philosophy that humanity is the latest stage in a purposeful evolutionary movement of the “life force” toward ever-higher life forms.
The play's hero, the roguish Jack Tanner, is bent on pursuing his own spiritual development in accordance with this philosophy. Believing marriage would prevent him from achieving his higher intellectual and political ambitions, Tanner is horrified to discover that his newly appointed ward, Ann Whitefield, intends to marry him. He flees to Spain with Ann in hot pursuit. The chase even leads them to the underworld, where the characters’ alter egos discuss questions of human nature and philosophy in a lively debate in a scene often performed separately as ‘Don Juan in Hell’. In Man and Superman, Shaw combined seriousness with comedy to create a satirical and buoyant exposé of the eternal struggle between the sexes.