A Satirical Examination of Shakespeare’s Inspirations – free online from 21 Nov – for A Good Cause

The Streamed Shakespeare team is always looking for different perspectives on The Bard.
This time, they are examining him from the viewpoint of another great English playwright, George Bernard Shaw. Shaw’s The Dark Lady of the Sonnets – to be performed free online from Sunday 21 Nov at 2pm – 
is a hilarious take on Shakespeare’s supposed reputation as a ladies’ man, seeing him trysting on one of Whitehall Palace’s terraces on Midsummer’s night.

This being Shaw, mistaken identity and multiple bon-mots are the watchword as Shakespeare
laments his success to a strange presence, dressed in black, wandering about the premises.

The Dark Lady of the Sonnets is directed by David A. Attrill (Pygmalion, Henry IV, Parts I & II).

Appearing in the last twenty-six poems written by Shakespeare, the “Dark Lady” is a recurring thematic persona. Speculation abounds, but we will never know her true identity. The enigma of who precisely is Shakespeare’s Dark Lady only adds to the sonnets’ romance and fuels the comedic fire of Shaw’s work.

“Words, words, words – Shaw and Shakespeare used them in abundance,” says Attrill. “No-one can know who the Dark Lady was, or indeed if there even was one, but does it matter in this brief trifle full of manifest impossibilities? Fairy tale and/or farce: it’s your decision.”

The production stars Jim Southwell  (The Shakey Interviews, Pygmalion, The Merchant of Venice) as William Shakespeare and Charles Mayer (The Strangers’ Speech, Henry IV, Parts I & II, Richard III) as The Warder. Holly Champion (The Stranger’s Speech, Pygmalion, Henry IV, Parts I & II) takes on the role of The Lady in Black, and Alexandra Rigby (The Strangers’ Speech, Pygmalion, and Henry IV, Parts I & II) plays The Lady in White. Director David Attrill also appears as George Bernard Shaw himself (a role he originated in Holly Champion’s staging of Pygmalion) to introduce the play.

As a bonus, the production will include A Dressing Room Secret, a playlet adapted by Attrill from Shaw’s short story of the same name.

The cast again includes Jim Southwell reprising his role as Shakespeare and Charles Mayer as The Costumier. Geoff Sirmai (The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Titus Andronicus, The Strangers’ Speech, Pygmalion) joins the fun as Iago. And in her first role with Streamed Shakespeare, Winsome Barker takes on the bold ‘Lady M’.

Both pieces will be released – free – as one grand performance via Streamed Shakespeare’s YouTube Channel on November 21st, 2021, at 2:00 PM  AEST. 

Shaw wrote both The Dark Lady of the Sonnets and A Dressing Room Secret as part of a campaign to establish a Shakespeare National Theatre. “Shaw’s Shakespear (sic) isn’t Shakespear for purists for sure, but a preface and 2 pieces of critical analysis in 1910, disguised as a fundraiser playlet and programme notes.” – David Attrill, Director

In a similar vein, Streamed Shakespeare aims to support its fellow actors by encouraging audiences
to donate to the Actors Benevolent Fund of New South Wales (
Even though COVID restrictions are easing and theatres are slowly coming back to life, actors and other stage workers continue to struggle financially.

That’s where the Benevolent Fund comes in. It provides support to actors, students, crews, and musicians to get them through tough times. Streamed Shakespeare would like to contribute to its efforts – and is sure its audience will too!

Stream The Dark Lady of the Sonnets and A Dressing Room Secret starting November 21st, 2021 at 2:00 PM AEST on the Streamed Shakespeare YouTube Channel at

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