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Joel Schechter

Published by Methuen Drama

Satire reconsiders the entertainment, political dissent and comic social commentary created by innovative writers and directors since this theatrical form took the stage in ancient Athens

From Aristophanes to the 18th-century plays of John Gay and Henry Fielding, to the creations of Joan Littlewood, Bertolt Brecht, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Erika Mann, Brendan Behan and Dario Fo, practitioners of theatrical satire have prompted audiences to laugh at corruption, greed, injustice and abusive authority

In the theatre these artists jested at prominent citizens, scandals and fashions

In retrospect it can be seen that their topical references, allegories and impersonations also promoted intervention in public discourse and events outside the theatre, as satire extended its reach beyond the stage into society

Satire focuses on three exemplary satiric plays: The Knights by Aristophanes, The Beggar's Opera by John Gay and The Hostage by Brendan Behan under Joan Littlewood's direction

Detailed discussion of these three innovative works reveals both changes and continuities in stage satire over the course of its long, hilarious history

The survey concludes with a discussion of stage satire as an endangered art in need of preservation by actors, directors and theatre historians

Satire is part of the series Forms of Drama edited by Simon Shepherd

Table of Contents

Series Preface
Introduction: What Was Satire? Looking Back at an Endangered Art Form
Aristophanes and After: Origins and Legacy of Ancient Athenian Satire
John Gay and Swiftian Stage Satire in the Long-Eighteenth Century
Joan Littlewood's Brendan Behan, and the Making of Modern Satire
Conclusion: The Endangered Future of Satire

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