Satire

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audio The Best of Second City: Vol. 2

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Take an unforgettable ride with the classic sketches that helped make this America’s foremost comedy troupe. The Second City lampoons every aspect of modern American life, with brilliant improvised sketches on subjects ranging from salad bars to affairs of state.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marsha Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick and Jim Zulevic.

Featuring: Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marhsa Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick, Jim Zulevic

audio The Best of Second City: Vol. 3

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Take an unforgettable ride with the classic sketches that helped make this America’s foremost comedy troupe. The Second City lampoons every aspect of modern American life, with brilliant improvised sketches on subjects ranging from salad bars to affairs of state.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marsha Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick and Jim Zulevic.

Featuring: Fran Adams, Scott Adsit, Scott Allman, Edward Asner, Samantha Bennett, Jennifer Bill, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Paul Dinello, Arye Gross, Jenn Jolovitz, Tim Kazurinsky, Laura Krafft, Joe Liss, Marhsa Mason, Michael McCarthy, Jerry Minor, Tim O'Malley, David Razowsky, Mitch Rouse, John Rubano, Ruth Rudnick, Amy Sedaris, Brian Stack, Jill Talley, Miriam Tolan, Nia Vardalos, Ron West, Peter Zahradnick, Jim Zulevic

A Bold Stroke for a Wife

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Though critics and literary historians have always had to admit that Susanna Centlivre’s comedies were extremely popular, they have tended to devote themselves to a search for evidence in them of supposed deficiencies of ‘the female pen,’ and to pay as much attention to the playwright’s marriages and amorous liaisons than to the plays themselves. Only in recent years has Centlivre come to be recognized quite straightforwardly as one of the most brilliant playwrights of her time. A Bold Stroke for a Wife is perhaps the finest example of Centlivre’s masterful plotting of comic intrigue. The soldier Fainwell and Anne Lovely are in love, but their path to the altar is blocked by her guardians, each of whom has a different view of what sort of husband would make the right match. Fainwell resorts to disguises of social types. The play thus provides a wide range of opportunity for Centlivre to satirize Tory respectability, religious propriety and capitalist speculative greed—and to give voice to tolerance: ‘tis liberty of choice that sweetens life.’ Yet in the end it is Centlivre’s comic muse that gives enduring life to the play as one of the most entertaining of eighteenth-century comedies.

audio Bordertown

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Culture Clash brashly explores the San Diego-Tijuana region through satire and humor. Bordertown is based upon interviews the trio conducted with more than 100 people from both sides of the border and from every walk of life. Interviewees include right wing talk show host and former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock, Sheriff Bill Kollender, Filipino and Ugandan immigrants, Navy personnel, a high school counselor, a border guard, punk rockers, homeless children, transvestites, and factory workers.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Culture Clash: Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza.

Featuring: Culture Clash: Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, Herbert Siguenza

The Boy on the Swing

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

If you found God’s number on a business card, would you call it? For Earl, the answer is yes. Seeking answers, he dials the number, hoping to reach a divine being. Instead, he discovers something altogether too familiar – bureaucracy. Before he sees God, there are countless hoops to jump through and forms to fill out, all pushed on him by inoffensive middlemen. Will he find God at the end of the tunnel?

Joe Harbot’s The Boy on the Swing premiered at the Arcola Theatre, London, in 2011. Witty dialogue and cleverly plotted absurdity drive this unexpected journey into the nature of the divine and the mundane.

Canvas

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Justine and Alan need to get away from it all. And what better way than camping on a farm in the Welsh countryside? So long as that's camping with all the luxuries, of course: real beds, wood burning stoves and an espresso machine. Sharing the rural idyll are seasoned campers Bridget and Rory, upwardly mobile Amanda and Alistair and a bunch of offspring. But canvas walls and adjacent tents leave little to the imagination in this entertaining exposé of modern family life.

Canvas premiered at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester, in May 2012.

Cloud Nine

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Churchill’s wickedly comic and compassionate study of sexual politics glimpses the relationships of a family and their lovers, with an interval of twenty-five years of their lives, and around a hundred years of history.

Highlighting the parallels of sexual and colonial oppression, the first act is set in a British colony in Africa in Victorian times. Clive is the traditional colonial patriarch, proud of his perfectly domesticated wife and black servant (‘played by a man’ and ‘played by a white’ respectively), and striving conscientiously to ensure his son and daughter play with gender appropriate toys. But furtive adultery and secret homosexuality threaten to subvert the moral order of the household.

The second act finds some of the same characters living in 1979, twenty-five years older and played by different actors, finding new liberations in bisexuality and polyamory, but finding new anxieties about gender and fulfilment. The intricacies of these relationships and the play’s doubling create a complex and moving account of the multiplicity of individual sexualities.

Cloud Nine was first performed in 1979 at the Dartington College of Arts, before touring and transferring to London.

The Critic

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Critic: or, a Tragedy Rehearsed is a political and literary satire, following in the vein of George Villiers’ The Rehearsal (1671), which takes jovial aim at the vanities of authors and politicians and at the foibles of the theatre itself. It was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (which Sheridan owned and managed) in 1779.

The play is Sheridan's response to the threat of a Franco–Spanish invasion in the summer of 1779. In 1778, France had acknowledged US independence and subsequently declared war on Britain. In 1779, Spain followed suit, and by August of that year, both countries’ fleets were in the English Channel. Britain’s military preparations may have been somewhat excessive, but they did encourage an ‘Armada spirit’ of nationalism. In June 1779, the theatre at Sadler’s Wells had put on an ‘Armada piece’, Thomas King’s The Prophecy; or, Queen Elizabeth at Tilbury. Sheridan’s play caricatures this trend to rouse patriotism by highlighting glorious moments of past English victory, through his portrayal of a fictional ‘tragedy’, The Spanish Armada, penned by the amateur Mr. Puff. The play-within-the-play, needless to say, is more akin to farce than tragedy.

Sheridan’s first act introduces several figures who embody all that is reprehensible about the theatre. Mr Dangle is an amateur theatre critic, delighted to have his house filled every morning with declaiming aspirant players and warbling opera singers all seeking advancement from him. Mr Sneer is a fellow critic famed for his acerbic pen. Sir Fretful Plagiary is a playwright of doubtful quality. Sneer and Dangle visit the final rehearsal of Puff’s play to offer their valued opinions on the ‘Art of Puffing’, peppering the long-suffering actors with comments, suggestions and protestations in a hilarious theatrical parody. Puff’s work culminates in a bombastic spectacular set to ‘Rule Britannia’, bringing the play to a laughably patriotic close.

video The Critic (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

Hywel Bennett, Alan Badel, Nigel Hawthorne and John Gielgud star in Sheridan's clever farce on the pretensions of the theatrical world. The Critic: or, a Tragedy Rehearsed is a political and literary satire, following in the vein of George Villiers’ The Rehearsal (1671), which takes jovial aim at the vanities of authors and politicians and at the foibles of the theatre itself.

Credits:

Lord Burleigh: John Gielgud; Mr. King/Mr. Puff: Hywel Bennett; Mr. Sneer: Nigel Hawthorne; Mrs. Dangle: Rosemary Leach; Mr. Dangle: Norman Rodway; Sir Fretful Plagiary: Alan Badel; Tiburina: Anna Massey; Constable: Rodney Bewes; Interpreter: Christopher Biggins; Director: Don Taylor; Writer: Richard B. Sheridan; Producer: Louis Marks; Costume Design: Betty Aldiss.

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

Cuckold Ubu

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Alfred Jarry’s Cuckold Ubu (Ubu Cocu) is the second in his cycle of Ubu plays about Pa Ubu, the grotesquely comical character first encountered in King Ubu (Ubu Roi).

This version is translated by Kenneth McLeish, who in his introduction to the published text calls the play 'the darkest and most surreal of the [Ubu] plays.' It is relatively short compared to its predecessor King Ubu, and is incomplete: Jarry never produced a definitive version of the play. He is believed to have begun its composition in 1897, a year after the premiere of King Ubu, and it was performed in various versions during his lifetime. It is written in the same style as King Ubu, with a characteristic combination of surrealism, ribaldry and biting satire.

The action of the play is summarised by McLeish as follows: 'Pa Ubu takes up residence in the home of Peardrop, a breeder of polyhedra, and he and his Barmpots tyrannise the neighbourhood, despite the efforts of Pa Ubu’s Conscience and Peardrop to stop them. There is war, led on Peardrop’s side by Memnon (the singing Egyptian statue with whom Ma Ubu is cuckolding Pa Ubu) and by the banker Swankipants, and eventually a crocodile appears in true Punch-and-Judy style to chase off all the others. (We don’t know whether it does or not: the play as it survives is incomplete.)'

A term that comes from the Latin for ‘medley’ and may have had origins in cooking, though not in the Greek satyr play, as the first Elizabethans believed. Satire uses various types of comic exaggeration to ridicule human institutions or behaviour, in the hope of their being changed or corrected. Among the common devices of satire are irony, parody and caricature. The first known dramatic satires are the plays of Aristophanes, and the tradition extends back beyond these to pre-dramatic Greek lampoons making fun of local figures. Satire, a favourite Roman form, has ever since been associated with the emphases of its two leading practitioners, Horace and Juvenal; Horatian satire is gentler, with some sympathy for its victims, while Juvenal lashes his victims without mercy. Both types of satire have a long and important tradition in the drama: the Horatian from Molière through the goodnatured comedies of Goldsmith to the humane comedies of Chekhov, a good deal of Shaw and the generally sentimentalized tradition of the modern musical comedy; the harsher Juvenalian strain from Jonson through much of the ‘English’ comedy of manners tradition – Wycherly, Wilde, Coward– to many modern black comedy authors (e.g. Joe Orton) and Theatre of the Absurd writers such as Ionesco. Juvenalian satire has also long been a favourite device of politically engaged drama, a tradition that can be traced back to Aristophanes and that would include Henry Fielding and Bertolt Brecht. Together with plays such as Pravda (Hare and Brenton, 1985) or Serious Money (Caryl Churchill, 1987), these examples suggest that Juvenalian satire is often closely related to the political cartoon or caricature, a relation that has been made explicit by modern agitprop and street theatre companies like the American Teatro Campesino and the Bread and Puppet Theater.

from Marvin Carlson, The Continuum Companion to Twentieth-Century Theatre, ed. Colin Chambers (London, 2002).