2 The Dark Ages (500-1000 C.E.) Much political turmoil no reliable political structureFeudalism: Lords, vassals, serfsThe Church was the only stable "government"The church exerted increasing influenceIn the 4th Century, the Bishop of Rome established supremacy in church matters and in secular concernsChurch edicts against secular performersNot much theaterTraveling singers and storytellersTraveling troupes of circus-like entertainers
3 Hrosvitha of Gandersheim (935-1001 C.E.) Earliest known female dramatistA German nunWrote religious plays based on Terence's playsTerence’s style, but Christian storiesWere probably “closet dramas”meant to be read, not performedPurpose was to glorify Christian virgins
4 Theatre is Reborn! Changes in music Quem quaeritis Tropes Extended musical passages spread throughout Catholic MassLyrics added laterQuem quaeritisTrope added into Easter service in 925Angel asked, “Whom do you seek?” to three Marys visiting tomb of Christ
5 Quem quaeritis? Quem quaeritis in sepulchro, o Christicolae? Jesum Nazarenum crucifixum, o caelicolae.Non est hic; surrexit, sicut praedixerat. Ite, nuntiate quia surrexit de sepulchroTranslation:The Angels: Whom do ye seek in the sepulcher, O followers of Christ?The Marys: Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified, O heavenly ones.The Angels: He is not here; he is risen, just as he foretold. Go, announce that he is risen from the sepulcher.—John Glassner, editor, Medieval and Tudor Drama.
6 Liturgical DramasBy 975, church began incorporating drama into the serviceClergy presented with assistance from choirboysWritten in LatinMany playlets developed dealing with biblical themesMostly performed for Easter, Christmas, the 12th Night (Feast of the Epiphany)Usually serious, but at the Feast of Fools much dancing, foolishness and parodies of church practices
7 Staging Liturgical Drama Different scenes set up simultaneously in mansionsMansions: scenic structure depicting some locale needed for a biblical taleCould be specially constructed or an existing area within churchUsed to indicate locale, but too small to perform inWould initiate play at a mansion and move to platea
8 Vernacular Drama Moved outdoors Written in language people spoke Two types of Vernacular religious dramasMystery or cycle playsMorality plays
9 Mystery/Cycle Plays Depicted scenes from the Bible Presented in cycles From Creation to the last judgmentPresented in cyclesSeries of short dramas of an episodeLasted several hours or several daysStaged independently of church servicesPresented in spring and summer during festivalsFeast of Corpus Christi was a favorite time
10 Reaching the AudienceAnachronism: presenting characters and events outside proper historical sequenceMakes characters more identifiable to audiencesHighlighted the spectacular1501 production of the Flood used barrels of water to make it “rain” for 5 minutesComedy introduced to make it more appealing
11 Producing Mystery Plays Produced once every 2-10 yearsConfraternities, or craft guilds, assigned to a particular “appropriate” cycleShipbuilders produce Noah’s ArkBaker’s guild produce Last SupperPageant Masters supervised productionsResponsible for construction of scenery, stage, casting, disciplining actors, money takers, and narrator between plays
12 Acting Amateur actors doubled roles Fewer than 5 rehearsals for a cycleFined for missing or disrupting a rehearsalTypecastingChoosing people who have certain qualities in real life to play characters with similar qualitiesProvided own costumes; Church assisted with more unusual costumes
13 Staging Processional Staging Stationary Staging Cycle set up on pageant wagonsCould be moved from locale to localeStationary StagingSeries of small scenic mansions stood side by side with huge platform stageHeaven and Hell mansions placed at opposite ends of platformImportant: neutral platform playing area
14 These pictures were taken during the performance of the York Cycle of Mystery Plays in Toronto on June 20, 1998.
21 The Second Shepherd’s Play Dramatizes the biblical story of the shepherds who are told about Christ’s birth by an angelFirst section is comedicStealing a sheep and find it in a crib, pretending it’s a newborn babySecond section is the Holy NativityFirst section sets stage for nativityShepherds are characters from Middle AgesReflects secular farce mixed with religious subject matter
22 The Second Shepherd's Play 1972 – UMBC Department of Theatre
27 Morality PlaysAttempts to teach a moral lesson through use of allegorical charactersPeople represent ideasCharacters take journey through which they learn moral lessonStruggle between two forces, good and evil, for soul of main characterStaging was similar to cycle playsNeutral platform stage
28 Everyman Best known example of a morality play Character Everyman told by Death that his earthly life is overEveryman seeks companion to accompany him to next worldSpeaks to characters representing abstract ideas, but only Good Deeds will go with him to afterlifeLesson to Everyman (humanity): only Good Deeds can be of any assistance when one is summoned by Death
29 Quiz What does vernacular mean? What does Quem Quaeritis mean? Why is Quem Quaeritis important to theater?What is an anachronism?Name a mystery play.Name a morality play.Who was responsible for cycle play productions?What is a mansion?Name the favorite festival in which cycle plays were performed.What did the Bishop of Rome establish?