Monday, January 14, 2019

Thou Fair Eliza (c) - Act 2, Scene 1 Insert

With the copyright secured, and with the play not being produced this season, I'd like to take a couple of days to share a couple of my favorite inserts and revisions from the reworking of Pygmalion into Thou Fair Eliza*.

The first piece I'd like to share is an insert of a beat into scene 1 of Act 2.  The goal was to provide a greater insight into Eliza's mindset in this introduction to the Professor's world.  The challenge was to make the insert appear seamless, blending with Shaw's text and not drawing attention to the new material.

To that end, I've included a bit of the lead in and followup that originated in Shaw's text, along with the new insert.


MRS. PEARCE [patiently] I think you'd better let me speak to the girl properly in private. I don't know that I can take charge of her or consent to the arrangement at all. Of course I know you don't mean her any harm; but when you get what you call interested in people's accents, you never think or care what may happen to them or you. Come with me, Eliza.

HIGGINS. That's all right. Thank you, Mrs. Pearce. Bundle her off to the bath-room.

LIZA [rising reluctantly and suspiciously] You're a great bully, you are. I won't stay here if I don't like. I won't let nobody wallop me. I never asked to go to Bucknam Palace, I didn't. I was never in trouble with the police, not me.

MRS. PEARCE. Don't answer back, girl. You don't understand the gentleman. Come with me. [She leads the way to the door, and holds it open for Eliza].

LIZA [as she goes out] Well, what I say is right. I won't go near the king, not if I'm going to have my head cut off. If I'd known what I was letting myself in for, I wouldn't have come here. I always been a good girl; and I never offered to say a word to him; and I don't owe him nothing; and I don't care; and I won't be put upon; and I have my feelings the same as anyone else—

[Mrs. Pearce and Eliza exit into the hallway. Pickering comes from the hearth to the chair and sits astride it with his arms on the back.  Main action and focus will be on Mrs. Pearce and Eliza, with dialogue below.]

MRS. PEARCE.  This way girl.  Keep up.  And do stop fidgeting. 

LIZA. Ma’am…?

MRS. PEARCE. [Slightly exasperated] My name is Mrs. Pearce.  You can address me as such.

LIZA.  Yes’em.  Mrs. Pearce, can I ask you a question?


LIZA. What kind of man is the professor?


LIZA. You called him wicked.  Is he?

MRS. PEARCE.  The professor is a gentleman, I can assure you that.  I know not what he intends for your future, but you can be assured that no harm will come to you in this house, under my watch.

LIZA.  And Colonel Pickering?

MRS. PEARCE. I do not know the Colonel well, but from what I can observe, he appears the perfect gentleman.

LIZA. And how does the professor treat you?

MRS. PEARCE. Dear girl, the professor gives me no more regard than the phonograph in his study.  So long as I function properly and keep the house in order, we get along fine.


MRS. PEARCE. It would serve you well to remember that.  And if you have any issues, bring them to me first.  Are we clear?

LIZA. Yes’em

MRS. PEARCE.  Good.  Come now.  You best not go back into that study until you are spotless.

[Focus shifts back to Higgins and Pickering in the study, as Mrs. Pearce ushers Eliza offstage.]

PICKERING. Excuse the straight question, Higgins. Are you a man of good character where women are concerned?

HIGGINS [moodily] Have you ever met a man of good character where women are concerned?

PICKERING. Yes: very frequently.

HIGGINS [dogmatically, lifting himself on his hands to the level of the piano, and sitting on it with a bounce] Well, I haven't. I find that the moment I let a woman make friends with me, she becomes jealous, exacting, suspicious, and a damned nuisance. [He sits down on the bench at the keyboard]. So here I am, a confirmed old bachelor, and likely to remain so.

PICKERING [rising and standing over him gravely] Come, Higgins!  You know what I mean. If I'm to be in this business I shall feel responsible for that girl. I hope it's understood that no advantage is to be taken of her position.


Tomorrow, I plan to share my favorite scene and addition to the text.

* Thou Fair Eliza, (c) Keeler, 2018.

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