When directors begin work on a new production of Shaw's Androcles and the Lion, they must decide what exactly to make of the dances between Androcles and the lion in the Prologue and in Act II. These dances are not part of the well-known literary and visual adaptations of the Androcles legend; thus, they seem to be an innovation of Shaw's. Their likely source is the widely read Comic Almanack of 1846 that includes a poem and an image of Androcles and the lion dancing on facing pages. The Androcles legend in its well-known variants neatly fits into Shaw's beliefs concerning the need for human compassion toward animals as evidenced in his letters and other materials, but the Almanack's version is also an exploration of the idea of a real, if dangerous, unity that affirms the human as part of, not separate from, the animal kingdom.

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