The Shaw Society Welcomes Theatre Icons Dame Sian Phillips and Patricia Hodge OBE

The Shaw Society, the UK-based charitable organization dedicated to celebrating the theatre and writings of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, proudly announces the election of two esteemed theatre, film and television icons, Dame Sian Phillips and Patricia Hodge OBE, as Trustees. Their wealth of experience and connection to Shaw’s works promises to enhance Society’s mission and further its impact in the world of theatre.

The Shaw Society, established in 1941, has been at the forefront of promoting and honouring the theatrical legacy of George Bernard Shaw, with a commitment to fostering appreciation and understanding of Shaw’s theatre and writings. The Society actively supports performances, educational initiatives, and various projects centred around Shaw’s literary brilliance. The Society’s President is Sir Michael Holroyd, and Vice–Presidents include Dame Judi Dench, Richard Digby-Day, Bonnie Greer OBE, Michael Rosen and Harry Hadden-Paton.

The distinguished Welsh actress, Dame Sian Phillips, brings an incomparable depth of knowledge and expertise to The Shaw Society’s board of Trustees. Dame Sian captivated audiences with her unforgettable portrayal of Hesione Hushabye opposite John Gielgud in a 1977 BBC Play of the Month production of Shaw’s Heartbreak House. Her exceptional performances in St Joan in 1958 and in Major Barbara at the National Theatre in 1982 have solidified her reputation as an accomplished Shavian and a true luminary of the British stage.

Dame Sian Phillips, photography by Nick James

Patricia Hodge OBE, another esteemed addition to the board, is celebrated for her remarkable contributions to the world of theatre, film and television. An actress always in demand, she is currently preparing for a West End run of Noël Coward’s Private Lives opposite Nigel Havers. Hodges’s notable appearance in David Hare’s 1997 production of Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House thrilled audiences and added to her already impressive portfolio of performances, spanning decades.

Patricia Hodge OBE, photography by Alisa Connan

Dame Sian Phillips expressed her excitement about joining The Shaw Society and continuing her advocacy for theatre and the timeless artistry of George Bernard Shaw, “Speaking as an actress, GBS has long been one of my favourite writers. I am proud to be part of a society that is dedicated to the protection and promotion of his work”. As Trustees, Dame Sian Phillips and Patricia Hodge will play a pivotal role in guiding The Shaw Society’s future endeavours, supporting the organization’s initiatives, and nurturing a vibrant theatre community that appreciates the brilliance of George Bernard Shaw’s writings.

The two ‘national treasures’ are joined by six other newly elected Trustees: Murray Rosenthal- a theatre producer who has produced four operas based on Shaw plays, Christine Stevenson – who ran visitor services at The National Trust-owned Shaw’s Corner for two years,  Ivan Wise – former editor of The Shavian (the Society’s publication), Esme Chandler – a retired barrister and long-time society member. John Foley an actor, writer and audiobook producer, and Eoin O’Callaghan- a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. They all look forward to contributing their insights and passion to further the Society’s mission of promoting Shaw’s works and legacy.

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome eight dynamic new members to The Shaw Society’s board of Trustees, all experts in their field.” said Maureen Clark-Darby, Chair of The Shaw Society, “The election of Dame Sian Phillips and Patricia Hodge OBE to the Society’s board, is a real thrill. Their affinity with Bernard Shaw’s works and their remarkable careers in theatre, film and television will undoubtedly enrich our organization and inspire future generations of theatre enthusiasts.”


Starring Colm Meany and Derek Jacobi

‘Shakes Versus Shav’, a madcap puppet film featuring the voices of Colm Meaney as George Bernard Shaw and Derek Jacobi as William Shakespeare, will receive its world premiere at the 35th Galway Film Fleadh in July.

This new Irish short is based on the last play completed by legendary Irish playwright and Nobel Prizewinner, George Bernard Shaw. In a knockabout Punch & Judy style, Shaw himself battles it out with William Shakespeare in a war of words to decide who is the greater writer. 

Written barely a year before he died in 1950 at the grand old age of 94, ‘Shakes Versus Shav’ was a final opportunity for the great GBS to celebrate his work and legacy, while taking a sly swipe at what he saw as Shakespeare’s overblown reputation. The film is true to Shaw’s original play: both funny and poignant, with laugh out loud slapstick moments, flashes of genuine drama and scathing wit. It’s a fresh and fitting tribute to two of the greatest writers in the English language … with strings attached. 

Released to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the play’s publication, ‘Shakes Versus Shav’ is co-directed by puppeteer Damian Farrell (Star Wars, Jurassic World, Dark Crystal) and documentary-maker Gerry Hoban. The film grew out of a previous collaboration between the two while working with Gabriel Byrne on the IFTA Award-winning documentary about George Bernard Shaw, “My Astonishing Self”. 

‘Shakes Versus Shav’ has been produced by Damian Farrell, Elaine Gallagher and Martha Moloney for Caboom, and is funded by Screen Ireland/Fís Éireann, along with RTÉ, Coimisiún na Meán and Section 481.