Presenting Pygmalion

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Daisy Steinthal ’19

Convent of the Sacred Heart students will trade their American English for the King’s English in the Upper School production of George Bernard Shaw’s critically acclaimed play Pygmalion. Shaw’s posh characters will come to life November 18 and 19 at 7 p.m. in the Lennie and John de Csepel auditorium.
Pygmalion is named after the Greek myth Pygmalion, which is about a sculptor who shapes a statue of a beautiful, idealized woman and then falls in love with his creation.
The five-act play follows linguistics professor Henry Higgins. Higgins brags that he can pass off Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle as a princess with only six months of training and Colonel George Pickering quickly takes him up on the bet. Eliza moves into Higgins’ home to begin her training, but as the play progresses, it becomes clear that Higgins is indeed the one who undergoes a transformation.
“The idea is that Henry Higgins ‘creates’ a duchess from the humble flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, but Shaw also raises many questions about what it means to overlook someone else’s humanity,” Middle and Upper School drama teacher and director of Pygmalion Ms. Michaela Gorman said.
Unlike other productions at Sacred Heart, vocal accents are a necessity in Pygmalion
“Our actors have been working hard on different dialects, sometimes needing to use multiple within the same scene,” Ms. Gorman said. “This has been a challenge but also something exciting for us to take on in the Drama department.”
Variations of this classic play, such as My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman, and She’s All That, have become box office successes as this timeless story appeals to all audiences.
“I wanted our department to take on a classic play, but I wanted to find something that still felt relevant and immediate, and Pygmalion met all of those criteria,” Ms. Gorman said.
This fall’s production of Pygmalion will be the last for veteran actress senior Elizabeth Bachmann. She will be playing the part of Eliza Doolittle.

Courtesy of Nina Rosenblum '18
Courtesy of Nina Rosenblum ’18

“Pygmalion is very interesting because it is such a quintessential story of a regular girl turning into a princess, but it actually addresses the emotional and issues that come with the transformation,” Elizabeth said. “It shows the audience that a person is more than just they way they look and the way they talk.”
In order to connect with her character, Elizabeth studies Eliza’s physical and mental mannerisms.
“For me, a big part of acting is always the physicality,” Elizabeth said. “I connect with my characters through the way they move and express their thoughts through body language. Eliza is an interesting character to play this way because, throughout the play, her physicality obviously undergoes a change from a sassy flower seller to a poised lady.”
Elizabeth has participated in Sacred Heart productions for the past four years and has taken on leading roles in productions like Les Miserables and It’s A Wonderful Life
“I can’t believe this is my last year performing at Sacred Heart,” Elizabeth said. “The CSH theater program has been a second home to me for the past four years, and is the thing I am going to miss the most next year.”
-Nadia Zuaiter, Social Media Content Editor and Co-Podcast Editor