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Medieval Theatre.

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Presentation on theme: "Medieval Theatre."— Presentation transcript:

1 Medieval Theatre

2 Types Mystery plays (biblical scenes, Christ, divine mystery, re-enactment) The Building of the Ark, Crucifixion Morality Plays (interludes, Virtues and Vices, Everyman/Youth, psychomachia) Everyman, The Castle of Perseverence Miracle plays (saints’ lives and their miracles)

3 Morality play: Everyman (15th c.)
Everyman Messenger God Death Fellowship Kindred Cousin Goods Good Deeds Knowledge Confession Beauty Strength Discretion Five Wits Angel Doctor

4 Morality Play: The Castle of Perseverance, mid-15th c.
Mankind Belial World Good Angel Bad Angel Seven deadly sins Virtues Death God the Father Others

5 Origins of Mystery plays
Divine mystery (cf. Greek drama, Dionysos), holy day – holiday (Eliade: The Sacred and Profane, eternal return) Easter tropes: ‘Quem quaeritis?’ (Christ’s tomb: Angel and the 3 Marys) – later: additional dialogue, props, set, SD, costumes) – out into the (church)yard Liturgical drama: in Latin, sacred music, clergymen Similarly: Christmas tropes (nativity, shepherds) and Twelfth Night (Magi, star)


7 Origins 2. Folk Rituals/Dramatic and Carnivalesque Rituals
Secular drama: in English, folk music, dance, amateurs The Battle of Carnival and Lent Christmas mummings (miming, music, dance, sword fighting, death and revival) St. George plays Harvest festivals, wedding playlets, etc.

8 Brueghel, the Elder: The Battle of Carnival and Lent, 1559

9 P. Brueghel the Younger: The Kermesse of St. George, 1628

10 P. Brueghel the Younger: Wedding Dance in a Barn

11 Morris dancers

12 Mummers' Play at Haddon Hall From Nash, The Mansions of England in Olden Time (1849)

13 Performances of Mystery Plays
The Feast of Corpus Christi Christ’s redemptive power through the miracle of the Host (procession of the ‘holy body’) 1264, Pope Urban, popular from 14th c. 23 May-24 June The whole town taking part (audience, players, etc.) – collective experience

14 Archdeacon Rogers, 1594, Harleian Miscellany
the Chester plays were given on Whit-Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. "The manner of these plays were, every company had his pageant or part, a high scaffold with two rooms, a higher and a lower, upon four wheels. In the lower they apparelled themselves, and in the higher room they played, being all open on the top, that all beholders might hear and see them." They were played, he goes on to say, in every street: "They began first at the abbey gates, and when the first pageant was played, it was wheeled to the high cross before the mayor, and so to every street. So every street had a pageant playing before it at one time, till all the pageants for the day appointed were played. When one pageant was near ended, word was brought from street to street, that so they might come in place thereof, exceeding orderly, and all the streets have their pageants before them, all at one time playing together, to see which plays was great resort and also scaffolds and stages made in the streets in those places where they determined to play their pageants."

15 The reconstrucetd route of the medieval pageant wagons on a 1610 map of York

16 Pageant Wagons

17 Coventry play, Hellmouth, later illustrations
Middle English pageant wagon. Scene of Christ before Pilate. From Sharp, A Dissertation on the Pageants... (1825)

18 Stage used in the Valenciennes Passion Play, 1547. Paris

19 Performances Pageant wagons (moving through the town or at the main square in a circle) or set scaffolds – each for one scene ’epic theatre’ – ‘the whole story’, focus on Christ Trade fairs – trade guilds (advertising, showing the skill, devotion) Elaborate set and props, effects, hellmouth, thunder, etc. Mystery and mastery (amateurism)

20 Cycles Chester cycle – 25 episodes York cycle – 48 episodes
Coventry/N-town cycle – 42 episodes Wakefield/Towneley cycle – 32 episodes, 6 by the Wakefield Master (fl. 1475) Disappearance of mystery plays: 16th c. – new genres, Henry VIII, ‘popish’, last Wakefield perf (The Theatre in London, professional actors)

21 KING JAMES BIBLE, 1611, Luke, Chapter 2.
6: And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7: And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9: And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10: And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11: For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12: And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

22 15: And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16: And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17: And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18: And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19: But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20: And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

23 King James Bible, 1611, John, Chapter 1
29: The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30: This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31: And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32: And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33: And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34: And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

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