Our Upcoming Film
MAJOR BARBARA tells the story of a wildly idealistic young woman, Barbara Undershaft, who helps the poor as a Salvation Army Major at a topsy-turvy anything-goes homeless tent community. For many years, Barbara and her siblings, Stephen and Sarah, have been estranged from their father, Andrew Undershaft, who is unexpectedly brought back into their lives by their restless and eccentric mother, Lady Britomart, who wants Undershaft to underwrite each of the siblings' lifestyles in a lavish manner to which Lady B is, herself, accustomed, whether they like it or not.
Barbara clearly does not want this – and neither does her brother, Stephen. For them, this would be blood money, pure and simple. Because Undershaft is a ultra-rich titan of the international arms and munitions industry.
Facing Barbara's disapproval and her confidence that she can save Undershaft’s soul – the wealthy patriarch proposes that he go to Barbara’s tent city and Stephen’s debating club – in exchange for their visit to his arms factory. He is certain that he will prevail. At the tent city, Undershaft surprises everyone by giving them a million dollars to support Barbara's work for the poor – and even sits in with her Salvation Army Band, playing his trombone.
Disgusted at her father’s flaunting of his tainted wealth, Barbara resigns her post – but doesn't know what to do next. What happens at Stephen's debating society and Undershaft’s weapons factory shall remain a secret. We’re just starting to think it all through – and you can join us. Students who are interested in our project are invited to join voluntary monthly Zoom script discussions, starting in November. There will also be lots of script conversation and adjustment once we convene in January 2024.
Major Barbara promises to be a sly comedy that tackles up-to-date social maladies of militarism and poverty. Like Stanley Kubrick discovered when he started to develop Dr. Strangelove as a serious drama – the reality is so bizarre it can only develop as non-stop absurdist comedy. This will be fun – and our challenge. To get people laughing at the folly of it all.
You can play a leading role.
At the beginning of the semester, we were truly starting from scratch. From making MAJOR script changes to location scouting, scheduling and casting, every student was involved in trying to make this film come alive. I spent an entire week, speaking to every actor’s agent, manager - and our casting director. We wrote their offer letters and deal memos which required changes every time one of the parties read it. I found myself reading books about entertainment law and Screen Actors Guild guidelines, to a point wherein I could remember which page number a certain law was. This program has completely changed my perspective on so many things. It has given me SO much confidence.”
– Saniya Mirwani, Sarah Lawrence College