John Gay: The What D'Ye Call It (1795 words)


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The What D'Ye Call It, described by Gay as a “tragic-comi-pastoral farce” [sic], received its first performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on 23 February 1715. It was Gay's most successful play after The Beggar's Opera [see separate entry], receiving twenty one successive performances and going on to be published in six different editions in his lifetime. In his “Preface” Gay claims to be the “first who have introduced this kind of dramatic entertainment upon the stage,” and argues that the whole art of the play “lies in interweaving the several kinds of the drama into each other, so that they cannot be distinguished or separated.” The play is a farce, containing a play-within-a-play, spoofing …

Citation: Gordon, Ian. "The What D'Ye Call It". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 February 2004 [, accessed 19 September 2020.]

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