Topic: College of Fine Arts

January 27, 2014

"Major Barbara" to play at Ball State
"Major Barbara" to play at Ball State

"Major Barbara," a bold play that provides an original take on ongoing political issues, will open at Ball State University at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in University Theatre. The production also will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7-8 and 12-15, with a matinee performance at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 9.

"Both history and George Bernard Shaw, the playwright himself, have identified 'Major Barbara' as among the three most important plays Shaw ever wrote," said the show's director, Michael O'Hara, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts. "'Major Barbara' is frequently performed when the host country is at war, as war is a major theme of the play. In the wake of 9/11, the war in Iraq, and the continuing war in Afghanistan, 'Major Barbara' offers a difficult, but necessary, exploration of the roles religion and poverty have played in how and why wars are fought."

The play tells the story of Barbara, a major in the Salvation Army, and her estranged father, arms manufacturer Andrew Undershaft. Barbara becomes jaded when her Christian denomination accepts money from her father and a whiskey distiller. The question she must answer for herself is: If the price of supporting the poor means collusion with a gun factory, who can afford to be righteous about their salvation?

O'Hara explained that one of the reasons the three-act play remains popular more than 100 years after it was written is because society has yet to resolve the issues of poverty, charity, war and religion. "Shaw provides a provocative and original take on these issues that is still worthy of consideration," he said. "At the same time, he presents the audience with challenging, yet intriguing, questions they must answer for themselves."

A notable aspect of the production is the director's decision to feature two professional actors in the roles of the parents, Andrew Undershaft and Lady Britomart. "The actors add experience and richness to a very talented undergraduate cast," O'Hara said.

Tickets for "Major Barbara" cost $14 for the general public, $13 for faculty and staff, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for students. They are available from the University Theatre Box Office, open from noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Contact the box office at 765-285-8749 or visit for more information.