Beggar’s Opera

Table of contents :
Cover......Page 1
Title Page......Page 6
Copyright......Page 7
CONTENTS......Page 8
List of Illustrations......Page 10
Introduction by Peter Steiner......Page 12
The Beggar's Opera......Page 36
Dedication......Page 38
Dramatis Personae......Page 40
Scene One......Page 42
Scene Two......Page 48
Scene Three......Page 53
Scene Four......Page 56
Scene Five......Page 62
Scene Six......Page 71
Scene Seven......Page 74
Intermission......Page 80
Scene Eight......Page 81
Scene Nine......Page 88
Scene Ten......Page 91
Scene Eleven......Page 94
Scene Twelve......Page 97
Scene Thirteen......Page 103
Scene Fourteen......Page 112

Citation preview


BEGGAR'S OPERA VACLAV HAVEL Translated from the Czech by

PAUL WILSON With an Introduction by PETER STEINER

The Czech President Vaclav Havel, a force on behalf of international human rights and his country's most celebrated dissident, first gained prominence as a playwright. During the period when Havel was blacklisted by the Czechoslovakian government




activism, productions of his work in and around Prague were regard­ ed as subversive acts.

The Beggar's Opera is a free-wheel­ ing, highly politicized adaptation of John Gay's well-known eighteenth­ century work of the same name. The play, reminiscent of Havel's earlier Garden Party and The Memorandum, is up to his best satirical standard. Like the Brecht/ Weill Threepenny Opera, Havel's play uses an underworld milieu to explore the intermingled themes of love, loyalty, and treachery.

Paul Wilson's new English transla­ tion of The Beggar's Opera is lively, idiomatic, and sensitive to underly­ ing linguistic and political issues. The Cornell edition contains an Introduction by Peter Steiner that details the November


1975, pre­

miere of the play in the Prague sub­ urb of Horni Pocernice, the reac­ tion of the Czech secret police, and the measures the government took to





involved in the production. Eleven photographs-of the playwright, the actors, the theatre, and the actu­ al performance-enhance the tex­ ture of the book. Front cover and back flap photos:

© Bohdan Holomicek, 1975. Jacket design: Lou Robinson

The Beggar's Opera

�Beggar's Opera VACLAV HAVEL






Translation copyright © 2001 Paul Wilson This edition copytight © 2001 by Cornell University All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher. For information, address Cornell University Press, Sage House, 512 East State Street, Ithaca, New York 14850.

Caution: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that The Beggar's Opera, being fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, the British Commonwealth countries, including Canada, and the other countries of the Copyright Union, is subject to a royalty. All rights, including professional, amateur, motion pic­ ture, recitation, public reading, radio, television and cable broadcasting, and the rights of translation into foreign languages. are strictly reserved. Any inquiry regarding the avail­ ability of performance rights, or the purchase of individual copies of the authorized act­ ing edition, must be directed to Samuel French Inc., 45 West 25 Street, New York, New York 10010, with other locations in Hollywood, California, and Toronto, Canada. First published 2001 by Cornell University Press Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Havel, Vaclav

[lebracka opera. English!

The beggar's opera f by Vaclav Havel; translated from the Czech by Paul Wilson ; introduction by Peter Steiner. p. em. Based on: The Beggar's opera by John Gay. ISBN o-8oi4·3833-o (cloth : alk. paper) I. Wilson, Paul R. (Paul Robert), 1941- . II. Gay, John, 1685-1732. Beggar's opera. III. Title. PG5039.18.A9 Z313 2001 891.8'6254--