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Commemorating PeterlooViolence, Resilience, and Claim-making during the Romantic Era$
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Michael Demson and Regina Hewitt

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474428569

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474428569.001.0001

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Staging Protest and Repression: Guy Fawkes in Post-Peterloo Performance

Staging Protest and Repression: Guy Fawkes in Post-Peterloo Performance

(p.100) Chapter 4 Staging Protest and Repression: Guy Fawkes in Post-Peterloo Performance
Commemorating Peterloo

Frederick Burwick

Edinburgh University Press

In the aftermath of Peterloo many plays were performed that featured violent military repression directed against a gathering of the downtrodden. None of these plays could directly identify the stage representation with the events at Manchester on 16 August 1819. The representation of Peterloo was possible only under disguise. In order to avoid censorship, the playwright must claim a setting in some other place or time. A convenient disguise was Guy Fawkes, who had been transformed from a villainous conspirator into a hero of the oppressed. The historical transformation was strikingly evident in the rowdy festivities of Guy Fawkes Night (November 5). What was originally intended as a celebration of the salvation of James I had become a celebration of Guy Fawkes as the rebel against tyranny. Stage versions of Guy Fawkes; or, The Gunpowder Treason gained popularity as plays of post-Peterloo protest.

Keywords:   Catholic, censorship, coup de theatre, Gunpowder Plot, Fawkes, Guy, Peterloo, Protestant, protest drama, rebellion, Reform Bill

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