Candida

Definitions

Medical

  • noun a type of fungus which causes mycosis.

Theater

  • A comedy by George Bernard Shaw, first performed in1895 at South Shields and subsequently (1900) at London's Royal CourtTheatre with Harley Granville-barker. The female lead waswritten for Janet Achurch; Shaw reneged on a promise to Ellen Terry(see Terry family) that she could play the role onalternate nights. Its successful revival at the Royal Court in 1904began a partnership between Granville-Barker and J. E. Vedrenne thatproduced a total of 10 Shaw plays there over the next three years.

    Shaw said he wrote Candida in several small notebookson the top decks of London buses. Although the play was much influencedby Ibsen, Shaw also took characters and ideas from Charles Reade'scurtain-raiser Nance Oldfield, about the love between a poeticyouth and a mother-figure. Shaw called his work "THE MotherPlay" and added: "Candida is a work of genius though theCandidamaniacs have always over-praised it. Every word of Candidais written with my heart's blood."

    It has often been revived, since it is the cheapest Shaw playto stage, having only one interior set and a cast of six. It is alsoprobably his best constructed work. A 1937 production at the GlobeTheatre ran for three months with Nicholas Hannen and his wife, AtheneSeyler, in the lead parts. The 80-year-old Shaw spent hours at rehearsals(though he was not the director) making the actors repeat the linesover and over again until they met with his approval. In 1946 MarlonBrando and Katharine Cornell starred in a Broadway production.

    The play explores the conflict between romance and practicalsense. Candida is the wife of the Reverend James Morrell, a benevolentbut smug Christian Socialist. Her simple and parochial life is complicatedwhen the young poet Eugene Marchbanks falls wildly in love with her.The poet seems easily the more fragile of the two men, but Candida,recognizing the depth of his commitment to poetry, chooses to supportthe weaker man - her husband.

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