Joel Schechter
Theatre Arts Department
San Francisco State University

Office: Fine Arts 433,   Phone: (415) 338 1331,   E-mail:
B.A. (1969), M.F.A. (1972), D.F.A. (1973).   I currently teach courses in dramatic literature, theatre history and theory, and popular theatre. Books (listed below) written over the years concern political satire, circus clowning, and Yiddish theatre. Plays directed or co-directed at San Francisco State include Brecht's Trial of Lucullus, Nadir's Messiah in America, Joseph Brodsky's Democracy, Phillips's The Stage Mutineers, and John Gay's Polly. I also have served as Coordinator of SFSU's M.A. Drama program, Department Chair, and a trustee of the Northern California Branch of the Workmen's Circle.


◄   (2016) Eighteenth-Century Brechtians: Theatrical Satire in the Age of Walpole (University of Exeter Press). The book 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. Publisher information and reviews by Seth Wilson and Hannah Manktelow.  
(2013) Radical Yiddish (Jewish Currents). Essays on Yiddish playwrights, poets, actors, painters and activists, as well as comics illustrated by Spain Rodriguez. Reviews in Swans Commentary and in Forward.   ►
◄   (2008) Messiahs of 1933: How American Yiddish Theatre Survived Adversity through Satire (Temple University Press). A reconsideration of American Yiddish and messianic stage satire by artists including Moishe Nadir, Yosl Cutler, Menasha Skulnik, Yetta Zwerling, the Federal Theatre Project and Sholem Aleichem.
(2003) Popular Theatre: A Sourcebook (Routledge). An anthology of articles about puppetry, circus, Commedia, cabaret, and political theatre edited by Joel Schechter. Publisher's description.   ►
◄   (2001) The Pickle Clowns: New American Circus Comedy (Southern Illinois University Press). Interviews with Pickle Family Circus clowns including Geoff Hoyle, Bill Irwin, Joan Mankin, and Jeff Raz. More information.
(1994) The Congress of Clowns (Kropotkin Club). Essays on Russian circus clowns and satirists, including the Durovs, Yengebarov, Bim and Bom, Ilf and Petroff, and Polunin. More information.   ►
◄   (1991) Satiric Impersonations: From Aristophanes to the Guerrilla Girls (Southern Illinois University Press). Essays on satiric plays and performers, including Jonathan Swift, Will Rogers, Dario Fo, the Green Party and the Guerrilla Girls.
(1985) Durov's Pig: Clowns, Politics, Theatre (TCG). Essays on circus clowns and political theatre creators, including Brecht, Boal, Lotte Goslar, Ariane Mnouchkine, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Teatro Campesino, Bread and Puppet Theatre, Dario Fo. Out of print, but available online, or download the PDF.   ►

Comic Strips:

Selected Essays and Playlets:

Essays and reviews in:

And puppets!

White House Follies performed at the Howard Zinn Book Fair in San Francisco with Donald Trump and Emma Goldman on stage, November 19, 2017. Puppeteers (not shown): Joel Schechter and Jeni Johnson. Photographer: Florentina Mocanu.