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The Shewing Up of Blanco Posnet

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The Shewing Up of Blanco Posnet

by George Bernard Shaw

Genre: Comedy
Format of Original Source: Play
Recommended Adaptation Length: Two Hours

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


Set in the American Wild West, a town turns on a horse thief, determined to hang him…but they can’t actually locate the horse that he’s accused of stealing.
an excerpt:
BLANCO [with infinite scorn] You and your rotten Elder, and your rotten Vigilance Committee!

STRAPPER. Theyre sound enough to hang a horse-thief, anyhow.

BLANCO. Any fool can hang the wisest man in the country. Nothing he likes better. But you cant hang me.

STRAPPER. Cant we?

BLANCO. No, you cant. I left the town this morning before sunrise, because it’s a rotten town, and I couldn’t bear to see it in the light. Your brother’s horse did the same, as any sensible horse would. Instead of going to look for the horse, you went looking for me. That was a rotten thing to do, because the horse belonged to your brother–or to the man he stole it from–and I don’t belong to him. Well, you found me; but you didn’t find the horse. If I had took the horse, I’d have been on the horse. Would I have taken all that time to get to where I did if I’d a horse to carry me?

STRAPPER. I dont believe you started not for two hours after you say you did.

BLANCO. Who cares what you believe or dont believe? Is a man worth six of you to be hanged because youve lost your big brother’s horse, and youll want to kill somebody to relieve your rotten feelings when he licks you for it? Not likely. Till you can find a witness that saw me with that horse you cant touch me; and you know it.


A delightful story; lots of twists and turns. Terrible title (isn’t it?): because something like “The Horse Thief” or “Hanging a Horse Thief” describes the action so much better. The titular character is filled with Shavian spit and vinegar, and his cantankerous relationship with his holier-than-thou brother is great fun. You’d want to solve the problem of the giant cast (a 12-person jury as well as “townspeople” who don’t have much more to do than call for Blanco’s lynching).


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