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Medieval Theatre History


Beth Cox

on 10 March 2016

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Transcript of Medieval Theatre History

The York
York is a city in England.
These productions have dated back to the 14th century.
during the Middle Ages
It was usually performed on the feast day of Corpus Christi.
Her feast day is the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. (a date falling sometime between the end of May and the end of June).
The York Cycle required nearly fifteen hours for its performance.
the 1475 version has 48 plays
11 plays based on Old Testament material
8 plays dealing with the Nativity
nearly all the others dealt with the life, death, & resurrection of Christ.
These plays represent the greatest achievements in the English theatre during the Middle Ages.
Play Cycle
The cycle plays, unlike the morality plays, did not urge people to change their way of life or damned for eternity. Instead, they were a celebration of the salvation granted to all through the resurrection of Christ.
Why is it not performed anymore?
The battle between England's Henry VIII & Pope Clement VII; with King Henry VIII's excommunication and his establishing the Protestant Church of England, the government increased the pressure to remove the Catholic content from the scripts. The last performance of the York cycle play was in 1569, five years after the birth of William Shakespeare.
They are Biblical events put together as a "cycle" of plays.
Producers of Cycle Plays:
Women performed in France, but they did not in England.
Doubling roles were very common.
Actors provided their own costumes.
For clergy characters, the church occasionally provided church robes. Angels would wear wings and halos.
Rehearsals were limited.
Actors were able to memorize lines so quickly because every year the plays were the same. Actors swore to an oath to be present at rehearsals, if they missed they had to pay a fine.
The Pageant Master
was like a modern-day director
onstage with actors for giving lines
Drama Period 1 & 2
beginning of 14th century
It was symbolic, not historic, and it was made to teach Christian values more directly than through Bible Stories.
Oldest Known
Miracle plays
were about the lives of the saints and their miracles.
They were throughout Europe, especially in France and England.
In England, as early as 1378 there was a play about the Lord's prayer.
There was also the Macro Morals. They are a set of three morality plays with some of the first theatrical designs ever. They were done on a round stage.
The main character is "Everyman".
The morality characters are personifications of abstract qualities, such as: Truth, Lust, Gluttony, Ignorance, or Good Deeds, or general personalities, such as King, Death, Priest, or Everyman.
Figures from Morality Plays
Free Will
the Dark Ages (500 AD-1450s)
What are Pageant Wagons?
Pageant Wagons are a wheeled, movable platform stage of various shapes and sizes--built by a guild for a specific episode of the cycle play.
Pageant Wagons are moved throughout the town and stopped before a platea (the neutral acting area of a stage); scenes could be played at once on different wagons.
What are Pageant Wagons Designed For?
Types of Acts Performed on Pageant Wagons
Pageant Wagons became popular when drama began to soar and the cathedrals were no longer large enough to occupy the numerous amounts of people. They developed pageant wagons, or “double-decker” carts, and placed them in the market. The top half of the cart was used for the acting, while the bottom was used for costume changes.
About the same time that the pageant wagons began, merchants began sponsoring plays. For instance, ship builders would sponsor a play about Noah, because they dealt with that subject matter or trade.
Mystery Plays:
about Bible stories
Miracle Plays:
about the lives of the saints
Morality Plays:
about right from wrong
The End
The producers were mostly guilds, sometimes Church and town counsel paid for performances.
Throughout Europe, especially England and France.
Hildegard of Bingen's - Ordo Virtutum - from the 12th century
Full transcript