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Medieval Theatre

What,where,when,who,why and how about medieval theatre!

Nichole Laforest

on 29 April 2011

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Transcript of Medieval Theatre

Medieval Theatre
By: Darnell and Nichole The Country/area of the world it takes place and the years it occured:

The Medieval era took place after the fall of the Roman Empire. In the middle ages it was the era in European history that lasted from 1066 - 1485.

-During this time , religion was a key part of the society, and Feudalism (Feudalism: The manor was the Cheif non-church political entity) took as the social and economic structure.

-The Medieval theatre roots lie within the Church as part of spreading the gospel.

-The medieval theatre of the middle ages grew from the church as another outlet for leaning outside the church's walls

-These roots mimcked the Greek & Latin plays with their religious cores, but were made to copy versions of bible stories that were revisited each year in the Church.

-The middle ages was often a social religious, and commercial event affecting a whole community and involving the spoken word, music, and dance. Acting styles (types of characters, how it is acted out) :

-Medieval plays focus on religion and dramatic acting styles. Some plays were virtually operas, sang in latin and acted out by choir boys, priests, and nuns. The Medieval acting style is also very obscure. A single actor would many parts in just one play, because actors were paid poorly and there weren't that many in the bussniess. Woman were never used in plays, if there was a femal role a male would act it as well. The acting style was exaggerated and heroic. Actors were over confident, loud and swaggering to enhance the audiences experience. Most lines were said in verse form.

Actors were mostly male, typically wore long dark robes. The devil was the main subject or character of most medieval plays.
-At the begining of Medieval theatre the Church banned performances of plays, as an attempt to curb the reamins of Roman theatre. By doing this , the arts moved to mimes, jugglers, bards, and story tellers.

-Medieval plays focus mostly on religion, and a dramatic acting style.The acting style was also very obscure, exaggerated and heroic. The plays were acted out by Priests, choirboys, and the nuns.
-A single actor would often act out many diffrent roles/parts in a play.They did this because actors were paid poorly and there weren't that many in the buisness.
-Actors were over confident, loud and swaggering to enhance the audiences experience.
-The devil was the main subject and character of most Medieval plays. Theatre types (buildings,acting areas) :
-The 2 major kinds of stages in the medieval theatre: FIXED and MOVABLE.

Fixed staging : "Platform stages"

Moveable: Pageant wagons moved throughout the streets while the audiencestayed in one place-like a parade float.

Simultaneous staging was also a distinctive characteristic of Medieval theatre.

MANSIONS---small scenic structures for idicating location. Mansions were used in more complex plays.they were set up in available spaces, like courtyards, and townsquares.

PLATEA---general acting area, adjacent to the Mansion.The Church structure usually served as the Mansions MAJOR playwrights and styles of plays performed:
-Most plays were religious in nature. Live stage plays were used to teach people about Christianity and the Catholic Church.

Mystery Plays: Mystery plays were Bible stories. There were four or five short mystery plays in each presentation. Clergymen were the actors. Each presentation was broken up, and staged all over town. One stage was located right outside the local church. Another scene might be staged in a wagon that was pulled through town. Some scenes were placed in different parts of town. The audience moved from stage to stage. The mystery plays were quite fun and very well attended by commoners and nobles alike. The stories included the Birth of Jesus, The Wise Men, and the Flight Into Egypt.

-Miracle Plays: Miracle plays were plays about the lives of the saints and the miracles they performed. Again, the clergy were the actors. These plays were staged like the mystery plays.

-Morality Plays: Morality plays began with the rise of towns. Actors performed these plays. The stories were about virtues and vices such as fellowship, good deeds, and death. The towns also produced miracle and mystery plays that were performed by actors. Some sets for some plays were really elaborate. Sometimes, there were no sets at all. This was especially true of plays performed in the cathedrals. The backdrop of the cathedral was the setting.

-Playwrights and Plays

Most of the stories and plays preformed in the medieval times came from the gospel and the church, but there were also a few famous playwrights from that age. One of the most famous plays from the Medieval age in The Second Shepherds Play witch is still preformed today.

-Famous Playwrights:

Macropedius (1487- 1558)

Hrosvitha- The first playwright of the middle ages

The Wakefeild Master- his real name is not known

-Famous Plays:

The Second Shepherds Play


The Passion Play Other notable aspects of that time, or interesting fatcs :
The Decline of Medieval Theatre:
1) Increased interest in classical learning
2)Social structure was changing
3)Dissension within the church led to prohibition of religious play in Europe

-By the late 16th Century, drama of the
Medieval period lost it's force.

-The Results of the decline:

-Amateur actors were not needed, only professional.

-Professional theatre rose and became commercial, but was no longer a community venture.

-Plays returned to the classics for new ideas for stories, and were no longer religious.

-Actors were males, and typically wore long , dark robes .

-Women were never used in plays , if there was a female role , a male would act it as well.

-But in 1350 actors were male members of the community, unpaid, there were some women on stage in france, no longer just choirboys, priests, and nuns.

- At first the Church had controled the drama outside of the Church then gradually became more controlled by specular groups.
-Municipalities took over in some cities but the Church still had to approve the scripts. At least 5 connections to today's theatre (aspects from history that are still used today, or have been modified) and provide concrete examples:
-There were plenty of things that were different back in the medieval times to now, but there were also things back then that either inspired some of the things we do now, or even created it.

-One thing that's is similar now from back then is plays preformed in churches, witch happens on the time on special events such as Easter or Christmas.

-Another similarity is that they used to perform platys on wagons, and that also still happens today, but on more then just wagons, even on things like busses, for example a band called The White Stripes preformed a show on a buss and everyone gathered and watched just like the old times.

- A third connection is the blockbuster hit The Passion of the Christ witch was a movie based on the stages of the cross, and it was also preformed a lot in medieval times.

-A fourth connection is that the play " The Second Shepard " is still performed today, after it was created back in the Medieval times.

-And a Fifth connection is,........... (Note: Medieval instrument, from the Buffoon webpage - is it an antique bagpipe?!) Colonial coutyard that can be used as theater. Stirling Castle
Completed: 1583
Location: Castle Hill, Stirling Scotland

Style/Period: Medieval

Built on an outcrop of volcanic rock on the north-south route between Scotland and England, and also on the main east-west route. Fixed Stage (Note: Medieval instrument, from the Buffoon webpage - is it an antique bagpipe?!)

Moveable stage Coustumes Theatre

After theatre were banned by the church in the 5th century, it was brought back in the 9th century in the form of short scenes or little re-enactment during the mass itself. This started in France but then started to spread more around Europe later on. It started with brief little plays to re-enact important parts of the catholic church such as Easter and Christmas. Once the plays started to get a little bigger and more people started to attend them they decided to move them outside near the church preformed on platforms which were sometimes attached to the top of wagons where the audience would stand around it and watch the show. The End!!!!
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