WESTERLY — Sandra Laub had a sense there was more to the woman born Beatrice Rose Stella Tanner and known to the world as "Mrs. Pat."

Laub, an actress who has taught English at Chariho High School for the last 18 years and has been performing on stages across Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York for decades, knows strong women when she sees them.

Born in 1865, Beatrice Rose Stella Tanner Campbell was a renowned English actress known for her "portrayal of characters at once passionate and intelligent," according to the University of Chicago Library.

"The daughter of Jon Tanner, an English businessman in India, and Maria Romanini, an Italian countess, she began her professional stage career in 1888," according to the library, and her famous Shakespearean roles were Juliet, Lady Macbeth and Ophelia.

She also starred as Mélisande in Maeterlinck's "Pélleas and Mélisande," and in the title roles in Ibsen's dedda Gabler," Hofmannsthal's "Elektra," and Yeat's "Deirdre," the library reports.

Most notable, perhaps, was that she was cast in the role of Eliza Doolittle in "Pygmalion," by the great George Bernard Shaw himself. "Pygmalion," of course, is the play known by audiences today as "My Fair Lady."

Mrs. Campbell also went on to have a passionate love affair with Shaw, despite the fact they both were married at the time.

"She is a fascinating figure," said Laub one afternoon last week as she described "Mrs. Campbell! Mr. Shaw.," her upcoming two-person play at the Granite Theatre. "And she was never given her due."

So about 20 years ago, she said, she wrote "Mrs. Campbell!, Mr. Shaw.," a play about Campbell and her relationship with Shaw.

"She was Shaw's muse," said Laub. "She was a famous actress at the time, a powerful female artist who managed her own affairs."

Laub was so intrigued by Campbell that she pored over hundreds of "intimate, exquisitely personal letters" the two wrote and exchanged from 1912 to 1940, and read "Dear Liar: A Comedy of Letters," a play by Jerome Kilty about Campbell and Shaw's relationship.

Also, Laub said, "In a business dominated by men," Campbell held her own. 

She was quite intelligent, Laub said, noting that the letters underscore the wit, wisdom and passion of their relationship.

Laub said she spent time during the long days of the pandemic updating her original play.

On Friday night, she will take to the stage herself in her revised version of "Mrs. Campbell! Mr. Shaw."

Playing opposite her, in the role of George Bernard Shaw will be Richard Noble, an actor who has appeared onstage at many theaters throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including the Gamm Theatre.

Noble, who most recently appeared in the acclaimed Boston Shakespeare Company production of "The Tempest," makes for a "fabulous Shaw," Laub said.

"It will be our first in-person foray," she said. "The Granite has been so generous and so good about keeping live theatre going."

Laub, who has performed in "Golda’s Balcony" — the William Gibson play that tells the life story of Golda Meir as she progresses from Russian immigrant to American school teacher to a leader of international politics as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel — many times over the years, also performed at the Granite as Bella in "Lost Yonker," several years ago.

Laub said "Mrs. Campbell! Mr. Shaw." is a "historical record of a bygone era, one that echoes the timeless and universal joys and sorrows of middle-aged people growing older, and perhaps wiser ... wise enough to poke fun at themselves and the world."

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