Satire

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Plays

All the Ordinary Angels

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

All The Ordinary Angels is a comedy of treats and dirty tricks in the world of ice-cream, as a family business becomes a family feud.

When ice-cream man Giuseppe Raffa decides it’s finally time to come in from the cold and retire, he sets his two sons in competition with each other. The winner will gain the family business; the loser will be left with nothing. Supported and obstructed by Rocco’s wife Bernie and Lino’s girlfriend Lulu, their fight for the hearts and money of the people quickly becomes deadly serious. It is a lively and satirical story of love, competition and selling ice-cream in rainy Manchester.

All the Ordinary Angels premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre in 2005.

audio American Night: The Ballad of Juan Jose

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this wild satire, a Mexican immigrant has a feverish dream while studying for his American citizenship exam. He meets a parade of characters ranging from Sacagawea to Teddy Roosevelt to Jackie Robinson, who take him on a mind-bending, hilarious, and poignant trip through American history.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, featuring Keith Jefferson, Richard Montoya, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San José, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, and Caro Zeller.

Directed by Shana Cooper. Recorded before a live audience.

Featuring: Keith Jefferson, Richard Montoya, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San Jose, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, Caro Zeller

Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In their introduction to the play, authors Margaretta D'Arcy and John Arden say of Ars Longa Vita Brevis: 'This little piece is not exactly a play, nor is it anything else in particular. If we must call it something, it might well be termed "A Theme for Variations."'

A satirical play, Ars Longa Vita Brevis draws comparisons between education and military conquest, suggesting that the result of both is the suppression of individual expression, and, ultimately, the death of the individual, as seen in the life of the martially-minded art master Mr Miltiades. The free rein the authors give to the possibility for production is in marked contrast to the damning, and ultimately damned, techniques of the protagonist of the piece.

audio Babbitt

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

With an all-star cast including Stacy Keach, Helen Hunt, Edward Asner, Ted Danson and Richard Dreyfuss, this epic of the booming 1920’s uniquely captures the relentless culture of American business. Babbitt is a true classic about conformity in small town America - celebrated for its comic tone, satire, and vivid dialogue. The play is based on Sinclair Lewis’ novel, first published in 1922.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Edward Asner, Rene Auberjonois, Bonnie Bedelia, Ed Begley Jr., Georgia Brown, Roscoe Lee Browne, Jack Coleman, Bud Cort, Ted Danson, William Devane, Richard Dreyfuss, Hector Elizondo, Fionnula Flanagan, Robert Foxworth, Harry Hamlin, Julie Harris, Helen Hunt, Amy Irving, Stacy Keach, John Lithgow, Nan Martin, Marsha Mason, Richard Masur, Marian Mercer, Joanna Miles, Holly Palance, Judge Reinhold, Franklyn Seales, David Selby, Ally Sheedy, Madolyn Smith, James Whitmore, JoBeth Williams and Michael York.

Featuring: Edward Asner, Rene Auberjonois, Bonnie Bedelia, Ed Begley Jr., Georgia Brown, Roscoe Lee Browne, Jack Coleman, Bud Cort, Ted Danson, William Devane, Richard Dreyfuss, Hector Elizondo, Fionnula Flanagan, Robert Foxworth, Harry Hamlin, Julie Harris, Helen Hunt, Amy Irving, Stacy Keach, John Lithgow, Nan Martin, Marsha Mason, Richard Masur, Marian Mercer, Joanna Miles, Holly Palance, Judge Reinhold, Franklyn Seales, David Selby, Ally Sheedy, Madolyn Smith, James Whitmore, JoBeth Williams, Michael York

audio The Baltimore Waltz

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A darkly satirical play written at the height of the AIDS crisis. As a young woman is diagnosed with a mysterious new illness, she and her beloved brother flee to Europe in search of a cure … and to escape the pain and uncertainty of the future.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jenny Bacon, Christopher Donahue and Jerry Saslow.

Featuring: Jenny Bacon, Christopher Donahue, Jerry Saslow

Bartholmew Fair

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Jonson’s exuberant comedy uses the carnival energy of Bartholmew Fair, an actual fair held in a disreputable suburb of London, to dramatize, satirize and celebrate the appetites and comic frailties of the human body.

The depiction of the Fair, teeming with sleazy but energetic life, is one of the great creations of English drama. There are crowds listening to a ballad-singer while a cutpurse plies his trade; sellers of toys and gingerbread raking in customers; drunken quarrels, arrests, and beatings. The climax is a puppet show in which a classic love story is reduced to raucous obscenity. At the centre is the gigantic pig-seller Ursla, whose tent, full of smoke, flame and frying carcasses, also doubles as a privy and a brothel.

There are also a number of respectable (and not so respectable) Londoners drawn to the Fair. Those who come to judge it end up in trouble. Those who come to enjoy it, and get something out of it, do not always get what they expect. Jonson’s gift for elaborate plotting draws all of his vivid characters together in a complex, beautifully structured mercantile cacophony.

Bartholmew Fair is said to have been first performed in 1613 at the Hope playhouse.

The Beaux' Stratagem

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Beaux’ Stratagem (1707) is George Farquhar’s last play: it premiered a month and a half before his untimely death aged 30, at the Queen’s Theatre in Haymarket, a new venue built by dramatist and architect John Vanbrugh on the Western fringes of the city of London. Seen as one of the most humane and democratic writers of the post-Restoration stage, Farquhar did not live to see the play become one of the most performed plays of the eighteenth century.

Farquhar’s last play is the story of two fortune-hunting beaux, Aimwell and Archer, who have journeyed from London to the provincial town of Lichfield. Their plan is to work their way through several towns, alternately pretending to be master and servant until one of them finds a rich heiress. But at the first hurdle, Aimwell falls sincerely in love with his prey, and begins to woo the beautiful Dorinda in earnest. Meanwhile his ‘footman’ Archer arouses the wistful interest of the unhappily married Mrs Sullen, the wife of a boorish squire. The play is further populated by a corrupt innkeeper, his lovely daughter, a highwayman, a disguised Irish priest, a country gentlewoman who believes she has healing powers, and a lowly servant who became one of the best-loved comic roles of the eighteenth century.

The Beaux’ Stratagem has been praised for the range, depth and naturalism of its characters: at a time when most comedies were written in, for and about London, Farquhar leaves behind the tendency to portray country folk as uncouth and laughable rustics. In addition, the play has been seen as broaching the gap between the sharp wit of Restoration comedy and its plots full of rakes and rascals, and the more genteel, sentimental comedy of the eighteenth century, whose focus falls not on sexual one-upmanship but on the realities of marital discord. The use of marriage as a way to improve social status had been long dramatized and satirized, but it is in his discussions of divorce that Farquhar reaches out to a humane understanding of the feasibility of marital harmony.

Feminist criticism has read into the play an early stirring of woman’s rights. In the previous century, plagued by the failings of patriarchal authority in kingship and commonwealth, questions had been raised about marriage being the best and/or only option for women, as it brought with it the possibility of unkind husbands and further loneliness. Farquhar’s comedy, ending with both marriage and divorce, highlighted the need for a reform of the divorce laws; this was a pertinent topic, as, despite the ills of marriage, only six divorces were granted by an Act of Parliament between 1660 and 1714.

Belong

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Election lost, speeches made and controversy stirred – Kayode’s hiding. He’s not even answering the door to the cleaner and Rita is not going to start getting out the Hoover in her designer heels. Escaping the political heat in London he flees to Nigeria – a British MP and a self-made man. Once there, he gets caught up in a whole new power game. Bola Agbaje’s satirical play questions our notion of home.

Belong was originally produced by the Royal Court and Tiata Fahodzi at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court in April 2012 before transferring to Theatre Local, Peckham.

audio The Best of Second City

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. 1

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 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).