Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Thou Fair Eliza (c) - Act 3, Scene 2 Addition

Today, I'd like to share my favorite addition to the script.  Act 3, Scene 2.  The garden party.  In My Fair Lady, the event was changed to a grand ball.  In the original Pygmalion, the event is referred to as a garden party.

Here, the goal was to show what Shaw only alluded to, and in particular, to lay the seeds for Eliza's choice to head to Mrs. Higgins house after the fight later that evening.  This should be the moment where Mrs. Higgins a glimpse into the depths of her son's narcissism, something she likely dismissed before.

In particular, there are a few lines in here that I could hear coming from the voices of actor's I would associate with the characters.



[The garden party.  The garden is situated in such a way that upstage center there is a stair with a terrace landing overlooking the garden.  This balcony is being used like a stairway at a grand ball; everyone entering and exiting the party are using the stairwell.  

Down stage center, a section has been reserved for a dance floor, the patrons swirling around the floor as the party continues on.

Throughout the party, the footman will be announcing names offstage, after which, the guests will enter upstage center, take the stairs Stage Right to go down into the garden.  

Mrs. Higgins has previously arrived at the party and is on the landing, watching the events of the party unfold.]

FOOTMAN. [offstage]  Colonel George Mayhew Pickering.

[Colonel Pickering enters on the landing and acknowledges Mrs. Higgins.]

PICKERING. Mrs. Higgins.  So good to see you this fine evening.

MRS. HIGGINS.  And you, Colonel Pickering.  I trust my wayward son has not been treating you too terribly.

PICKERING.  Oh, no.  Quite the contrary.  I dare say these last few days have been some of the most rewarding of this entire process.

FOOTMAN. [offstage] Professor Henry Higgins.

[Higgins enters brusquely.]

PICKERING.  Speak of the devil.  Ah, Henry.  I see you’ve made it in one piece.

HIGGINS.   Yes, and no worse for wear.  Though I must say, you should have seen the dreadful row that occurred before we could head out the door.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Really, Henry.

HIGGINS.  Hello, mother.  I trust you are enjoying yourself this evening.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Certainly, though it sounds like I missed the highlight of this evening’s festivities.

HIGGINS.  No, no.  Just a misunderstanding.  She, of course, decided to pick tonight of all nights to become obstinate.

PICKERING.  Now Henry…

HIGGINS.  Don’t “now Henry” me, Pick.  She knows this is exactly what she has prepared for.  She has been to enough luncheons and afternoon teas.  Tonight is the real test.

MRS. HIGGINS. Why Henry, if I did not know any better, I would say you were concerned.

HIGGINS.  Of course I’m concerned…

FOOTMAN. [offstage] Professor Francios Nepean.

HIGGINS. And that is why.

[Professor Nepean enters, and passes the party by on the balcony.]

NEPEAN. Higgins [nodding]

HIGGINS. Nepean.

[The trio watches as Nepean descends the stairs and begins to work his way around the party.]

HIGGINS.  That vulture.  If Eliza slips even for a second, he’ll see right through her.

PICKERING. Henry, she will be fine.  She could not be any more prepared.

HIGGINS.  We shall see if that has proven enough.  Ee, gods, what other calamities will this night entail?

FOOTMAN. [offstage]  Mrs. Glennis Eynsford Hill, accompanied by Master Frederick Eynsford Hill and Miss Clara Eynsford Hill.

HIGGINS.  Of course.

[The Eynsford Hills enter and begin their introductions.]

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL.  Mrs. Higgins, what a pleasure.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Likewise, my dear.  I trust you have been getting along well since our last luncheon.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL.  Oh, yes.  I hope Freddy has not been too much of a bother in the days since.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Not at all.  He is a splendid conversationalist.

MISS EYNSFORD HILL. [to Mrs. Eynsford Hill]  Mother, may I proceed down to the festivities below?  I want to begin rounding out my dance card as quickly as possible.

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL. Unaccompanied … - … I …

PICKERING. Mrs. Eynsford Hill, would you permit me to escort you and your daughter.  It would be a privilege

MRS. EYNSFORD HILL.  Yes, that would be wonderful.  Thank you, sir.  Come along, Clara.

FREDDY. [to Higgins] Will Miss Doolittle be attending this evening?  I do hope to see her.

HIGGINS.  She should be here by now.  I wonder what the devil could be keeping her.

FOOTMAN. [offstage]  Miss Eliza Doolittle.

[The pace of the scene slows tremendously as Eliza enters the scene.  All eyes immediately go to her.]

HIGGINS.  There you are.  It’s about time you made your entrance.  Now..


FREDDY.  [to Eliza, fumbling over his words]  Miss Doolittle, … you look….  That is to say… Would you grant me the honor of this dance?

[Eliza nods and they both descend the stairway stage right and make their way to downstage center.   Leaving Mrs. Higgins and the Professor on the balcony.  Debussy’s Claire de Lune begins playing in the background.  All eyes continue to be on Eliza as she dances and makes her way around the room.  

After several moments.]

MRS. HIGGINS.  Henry, she’s radiant.

HIGGINS.  She is doing fairly well, isn’t she?  I dare say, this whole gambit make succeed after all.

MRS. HIGGINS.  It may well indeed, but that is not what I am referring to, Henry.  Surely her beauty cannot have escaped even your notice?

[Professor Nepean approaches Eliza.]

HIGGINS.  Mmmhmmm.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Henry [slightly exasperated] I fear this damned contest of yours has gone on long enough.  What is to be done with Eliza after this evening’s performance?

HIGGINS.  [barely listening] Done with what, Mother?

MRS. HIGGINS.  Eliza, Henry.  What will be done with Eliza?

HIGGINS.  Eliza seems to be doing splendidly.  I suppose we shall know soon enough.  Here comes Nepean.

[Nepean ascends the stairway stage left and approaches Higgins.]

NEPEAN.  Henry, you have truly found a star in your new pupil.  I would watch myself.  I dare say she may outshine us all.

[Nepean nods and exits.]

HIGGINS.  Did you hear that, Mother?  A triumph.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Yes, dear, but what does this mean for Eliza?

HIGGINS.  Mean?!?  It means I’ve done it.  I’ve taken a dirty little guttersnipe and turned her into the most genteel of ladies.  There is no limit to what she can do now.

MRS. HIGGINS.  [Resigned]  There is no getting through to you, is there?

HIGGINS.  Yes, dear.  Now look, she’s approaching the duchess…

[Mrs. Higgins and the Professor continue to observe from the balcony.  As music continues to play and we have a sense of the passage of the evening, we hear the Westminster chimes toll 11:30 pm.  We see a spark of recognition and resignation in Eliza’s face.  She looks for and finds Colonel Pickering and after a brief exchange, takes his arm and ascends the stairwell stage left.]

MRS. HIGGINS.  Leaving so soon, Miss Doolittle.  I believe you have them eating out of the palm of your hand.

LIZA.  Yes.  Thank you.  I believe I could continue dancing well on into morning, but I feel I should return home.

PICKERING.  I tried to convince her to stay and enjoy herself, but she insisted.

LIZA.  It has been a wonderful evening, but I should be home before my fairy godmother returns.

HIGGINS.  Fairy godmother, what on earth are you…

MRS. HIGGINS.  It’s nothing dear.  Why don’t you take Miss Doolittle on home?  I’ll expect to hear from you in the morning.   And Miss Doolittle [almost an aside] … you were marvelous.

Eliza silently nods demurely in recognition.

HIGGINS.  If you insist.  Good night mother.

MRS. HIGGINS.  Good night, Henry.

PICKERING.  A pleasure as always, Mrs. Higgins.

HIGGINS, PICKERING, and LIZA all gather to leave.

LIZA.  [as they exit] It really was a wonderful dream.


*Thou Fair Eliza, (c) Keeler, 2018

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