The second version (in English) opened at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles on 30 July 1947. It was directed by Joseph Losey and Brecht, with musical direction by Serge Hovey and set-design by Robert Davison. Laughton played Galileo, with Hugo Haas as Barberini and Frances Heflin as Virginia. This production opened at the Maxine Elliott's Theatre in New York on 7 December of the same year. A third production, by the Berliner Ensemble with Ernst Busch in the title role, opened in January 1957 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm and was directed by Erich Engel, with set-design by Caspar Neher. The play was first published in 1940.
The plot of the play concerns the latter period of the life of Galileo Galilei, the great Italian Baroque natural philosopher, who was persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church for the promulgation of his scientific discoveries; for details, see Galileo affair. The play embraces such themes as the conflict between dogmatism and scientific evidence, as well as interrogating the values of constancy in the face of oppression.