Pygmalion Finishes the Orinda Starlight Village Players Season

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(Courtesy of Amy Cook)
Amy Cook directs OrSVP’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion.

    The Orinda Starlight Village Players will close their 38th season in the Orinda Community Center Park Amphitheater with George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, directed by Amy Cook.
    “I’m so excited to be directing this show,” said Cook.
    Iconic playwright Shaw premiered Pygmalion, the basis for the 1956 musical My Fair Lady, in 1913. The musical was released as a movie in 1964, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
    “Even with many years of acting and directing in community theater, I was not familiar with Pygmalion,” said Cook. “I read it immediately and was struck by how modern this play feels. I had always had a love-hate relationship with My Fair Lady. I loved Audrey Hepburn, I loved the music and the costumes, but I hated that Eliza goes back to Higgins in the end.”
    Cook was surprised to learn that was not Shaw’s original ending.
    Cook sees striking parallels between Shaw’s criticism of women’s lack of rights and the current political landscape.
    “Shaw’s original 1913 work is about Eliza’s desire for independence as a woman,” said Cook. “In this moment, when half the women in this country have had their rights to bodily autonomy taken away, this play speaks directly to a woman’s right to make decisions for herself. Unfortunately, the experience of being overlooked, unappreciated, or mansplained happens all too regularly, and I think many women will connect with Eliza as she strives to raise herself up and fulfill her own potential.”
    Cook also thinks the play’s criticism of class discrimination is still relevant.
    “Shaw is making some very strong statements about classism and the way the poor are treated,” she said. “Unfortunately, the descriptions of the ‘underserving poor’ echo today.”
    In addition to Shaw’s biting social commentary, “this play is also funny and heartwarming with some dysfunctional families and great costumes,” said Cook. “The cast is wonderful, and it is a joy to work with them to bring this relevant play to life.”
    Performances run Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 p.m., Sept. 9 through Oct. 1, with a Sunday matinee at 4 p.m. on Sept. 25 and a Thursday performance at 8 p.m. on Sept. 29. For more information, visit www.orsvp.og or call 925.528.9225.

David Dierks can be reached at david@theorindanews.com.

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