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Medieval Pageants Wagons and Stages

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Dona Walker

on 21 October 2013

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Transcript of Medieval Pageants Wagons and Stages

Medieval Pageants Wagons and Stages
Types of Wagons
Comparative European evidence (drawings of early ommegang wagons, and surviving Spanish pageant wagons) suggests pageants designed as three-dimensional pieces of street architecture, transpicuous wherever possible, and aligned toward the front or the rear.
The narrowness of York's streets and practical experiments in 1988 and 1992 at some of the most popular medieval performance places strongly support this model; side-on performance in these places makes it impossible for much of the audience to see the pageants and would sometimes involve placing the property of the stationholder backstage, from where no view would be possible.
Dona Walker and Xandra Prestia-Turner
Pageant Wagons
A pageant wagon is a movable stage or cart used to accommodate the mystery and miracle play cycles of the 10th through the 16th Century. These religious plays were developed from biblical texts and they reached the height of their popularity in the 15th century before being rendered obsolete by the rise of professional theatre.
Pageant comes from the archaic word for the wagon stage, "pagyn.” It is a word used to describe the movable stage on which a scene of the processional religious play was performed.
Where were they found?
Peagents were originally found in York and Chester as part of the Corpus Christi festival, but it was also common in Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
The Pageants moved around like floats in a parade. Because of this, the play would be preformed several time in sequence, so that more people could see the arch of the story being told on stage.
Modern reconstructions have assumed that the pageants played side-on, but this view rests on assumptions derived from modern theatre
European drawings of these stages suggest that they were designed as three-dimensional pieces of street architecture, had places in which to see wherever possible, and aligned toward the front or the rear
As time progressed, and the wagons became more popular, set up like the one you see from the left would be constructed and torn on the wagon.
The pagent's came in different shapes and sizes depending on what they offered and who they were showing for.
The larger wagons used a good deal of machinery; study of one type of machine, the functional lift, suggests that it needed grooved pillars, pulleys and a drum winch. Such a machine could be more safely and effectively mounted on an end-facing wagon than a side-facing one.
What were they like?
Pageants were decorated with drapes and the props used on stage were limited to chairs and tables.
Pageant wagons were not positioned together in large quantities so actors had to try to hide themselves when it was not there scene.
Details of a Wagon
Everyman- English Morality play
Quem Quaeritis ("Whom Seek Ye")- One of the first liturgical (meaning worship) performances
Birth of Jesus
The Wise Men
Flight into Egypt
The Second Shepherd's Play
What could be seen on a Pageant Wagon?
Historians often argue about the height and orientation on Pageant wagons, some believing them to be 12 feet high, some smaller because of the lack of space.
It is not agreed on weather all props and scenery were carried in the wagon or if things were made before preformance.
This is a procession in Brussels in 1615.
This play was after the time of religious suppression and the beginning of Common Wealth
By the time this painting was made in the Renaissance period, the procession also included secular scenes of famous people from life and literature well as the religious elements.
Some theatre companies, mainly in Europe, build and reenact plays of the medieval times.
This type of theatre is thought by many to lack quality and entertainment because it came out of a repression of art.

Pageant Wagon Construction
Pageant wagons originated in the Middle Ages, when they were used both by the church to stage “mystery plays” that portrayed major events in the Christian calendar, and by theater troupes that used portability to evade ecclesiastical authorities who were opposed to secular theater.

Back then...
The term "pageant" is used to refer to the stage, the play itself, and the spectacle.
Plays performed in sequence – thus each play was performed several times.
There are few reliable description of pageant wagons.
One claims that the wagons must be over 12 feet tall—it would seem impossible to fit through the streets (many medieval streets had overhanging buildings), and would be flimsy.
The End
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