Paper $34.00 ISBN: 9780859893350 Published July 2018 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
Cloth $85.00 ISBN: 9780859899970 Published May 2016 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only

Eighteenth-Century Brechtians

Theatrical Satire in the Age of Walpole

Joel Schechter

Eighteenth-Century Brechtians

Joel Schechter

Distributed for University of Exeter Press

288 pages | 10 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2016
Paper $34.00 ISBN: 9780859893350 Published July 2018 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
Cloth $85.00 ISBN: 9780859899970 Published May 2016 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only

Eighteenth-Century Brechtians looks at stage satires by John Gay, Henry Fielding, George Farquhar, Charlotte Charke, David Garrick and their contemporaries through the lens of Brecht’s theory and practice. Discussing the actor mutiny of 1733, theater censorship, controversial plays and Fielding’s forgery of an actor’s autobiography, Joel Schechter contends that some subversive Augustan and Georgian artists were in fact early Brechtians. He also reconstructs lost episodes in theater history including Fielding’s last days as a stage satirist before his Little Haymarket theater was closed, Charlotte Charke’s performances as Macheath and Polly Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera, and the 1740 staging of Jonathan Swift’s Polite Conversation on a double bill with Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor. Taken together, the book offers an unconventional new reading of theater history, Brecht’s tradition, and stage satire.

The Cast of Brechtians in Order of Appearance
List of Illustrations
Foreword by Peter Thomson

1. Eighteenth-Century Brechtians
2. Cross-Dressing Soldiers and Anti-Militarist Rakes
3. Polly Peachum and the New Naiveté
4. Pirates and Polly: A Lost Messingkauf Dialogue
5. The Duchess of Queensberry Becomes Polly Peachum
6. Macheath Our Contemporary
7. Swift in Hollywood: Another Messingkauf Dialogue
8. Swift Polite Conversation with Falstaff
9. Henry Fielding, Brechtian Before Brecht
10. Fielding’s London Merchant, and Lillo’s
11. Literarization of Fielding’s Plays
12. Tom Thumb Jones, Child Actress
13. A World on Fire
14. Fielding’s Cibber Letters: Counterfeit Wit, Scurrility and Cartels
15. Bertolt Brecht Writes The Beggar’s Opera, Fielding Rewrites Polly
16. Stage Mutineers
17. Charlotte Charke’s Tit for Tat; or Comedy and Tragedy at War: A Lost Play Recovered?
18. Mrs Charke Escape Hanging
19. Garrick and Swift’s School for Scandal—With a Digression on Yoko Ono
20. Brecht Praises Garrick’s Hamlet
21. A Portrait of the Artists as Beggar’s Opera Disciples—Including David Garrick, Epic Actor
22. Walpole in America
23. The Future of Eighteenth-Century Brechtiana: Polly Exonerated 
24. Conclusion: The Future Promise of an Earlier Age
Eighteenth-Century Brechtians: A Timetable of Events

Review Quotes
Michael Wilson, Loughborough University
“I found it both engaging and challenging/confusing, which is probably very Brechtian in itself. It is very jauntily written, as might well be expected from this author, and his enthusiasm for his subject matter is at times infectious. The author’s approach to history is a welcome one that serves the material well.  Rather than take a strictly chronological approach to history he adopts a view of history as a set of episodes that reflect on each other and through which we can move backwards, as well as forwards.  This approach is one that Brecht himself would have endorsed, as a non-chronological approach challenges the notion that any event is the inevitable consequence of the event that preceded it.  It acknowledges that other possible outcomes are always present.”
Peter Thomson, University of Exeter
“This is a book like no other. Schechter delights in liberating his own fantasy, in allowing his imagination free play in interpreting, not only what was, but also what might have been and what, with the right incentives, might be. What if, he asks, we were to accept that Brecht influenced John Gay. What if The Threepenny Opera can be seen as a source for The Beggar’s Opera and its banned sequel Polly? By challenging the authority of chronology, might we not come to a new understanding of the radicalism of Gay and Fielding? That’s what this book succeeds in doing.”
Graham Ley, University of Exeter
“This is an intelligent, radical book, intriguing from the start and relentlessly imaginative. It has a clear agenda, which is to mix up two periods from the past in the hope that they will stimulate the present. Schechter goes out of his way to suggest ways in which this is already, arguably, the case and in which directors or script-makers or dramaturgs might get in there and stir some more.The shape of the book is exciting and unpredictable, not conforming to a format, but always accessible and affable in style.”
Michael Caines | Times Literary Supplement
“Not every book about the eighteenth-century theatre alludes to Chelsea Manning, Occupy Wall Street and Bernie Sanders or concludes with a chronology that jumps from 1763 (James Boswell visits Newgate prison’) to 1928 (Brecht and others adapt Gay’s The Beggars Opera). Schechter makes these contemporary references and goes further. There is much here to prompt further investigation.”
Theatre Survey
“Schechter’s approach proves illuminating. He paints a picture of a vibrant theatrical climate, filled with meta-commentary, political activism, cross-dressing, and satire aimed at exposing hypocrisy and corruption in institutional structures.”
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