- Slides: 16
Medieval Theatre History Theatre Arts 120
Medieval Period Time Frame n 300 CE to 1300 CE
Drama owes its rebirth to the Catholic Church n n Priests introduce tropes: chants that help those who can’t read or write learn Biblical history. Church plays become elaborate presentations that are very popular. n Performers were nuns, priests and choirboys.
Continued… n Church drama expands to present more and more Bible stories: n Miracle and Mystery Plays: n n Based on the lives of saints and stories of Bible Passion Play: n Last week of Jesus’ life.
Plays performed with Mansions n Mansions: Various acting stations placed in a line, each one a different Biblical location such as: Heaven, Hell, Jerusalem, et cetera.
Medieval trade unions (guilds) presented most Miracle and Mystery plays. n Each guild (bakers, goldsmiths, cooks, et cetera) did one part: the last supper, Three Wise Men, et cetera.
Each guild had pageant wagon (stage on wheels): n Forerunner for modern stage. n n n Wagons traveled from town to town. Audience would stay in one spot while wagons moved through one by one. Entire sequence called a cycle.
Morality Plays n Similar in theme to Miracle and Mystery plays, ye more concerned with the principles taught by Christianity rather than stories from the Bible n A famous example of a Morality play, Everyman, tells the story of how Everyman is summoned to meet Death, appear before God, and seek salvation. Other characters include Fellowship, Kindred, Beauty, Strength, and Good Deeds.
Wandering groups begin presenting Miracle and Mystery plays: n Originators of first acting companies.
Not to be too serious, though… Despite the seriousness of the message and religious content, the performances continued to appeal to the audience’s appetite for comedy and buffoonery. n Acrobatic feats and farcical miming were a large part of these religious plays. n Perhaps that is why the jester is still one of the most prolific symbols of the medieval period. n
Complicated technical effects… Trap doors n Cranes, to fly angels in n Hell’s mouth – with a moving jaw, real flames, and smoke bellowing from its bowels; would consume those characters too evil for Heaven. n n It took seventeen men to operate one device!