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The fall of the Roman Empire marked the beginning of this era ... The church shut down all theatrical activities for 200-300 years, but jugglers, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Medieval%20Theatre

Medieval Theatre
The dark ages
  • The Middle Ages were the period between
  • The fall of the Roman Empire marked the beginning
    of this era
  • Cities were abandoned and life became more
    agriculturally focused
  • The Roman Catholic Church controlled religion,
    education, and politics

Rebirth of Theatre in the Middle Ages
  • The church shut down all theatrical activities
    for 200-300 years, but jugglers, minstrels, and
    mimes still traveled from town to town.
  • Theatre was (ironically) reborn in the church in
    the form of liturgical dramas
  • In a liturgical drama, priests or members of the
    choir would enact small segments of the bible to
    eventually become short drama performances
  • In the beginning, the liturgical dramas were
    performed in Latin

Rebirth of Theatre
  • Later on, the liturgical dramas expanded into
    longer plays based on biblical stories and were
    performed in town squares, not in churches
  • These later performances were called vernacular
    drama because the were performed in the everyday
    speech of the people

Medieval Drama
  • 3 types of religious plays were popular in the
    Medieval Period
  • Mystery (cycle) Plays dramatized biblical events
    from Adam and Eve in the Old Testament through
    the stories of Christ in the New Testament
  • Miracle (cycle) Plays dramatized the lives of
  • Morality Plays used religious characters and
    themes to teach a moral lesson

The Plays
  • Virtually all of the plays were short equivalent
    to one act plays today
  • Mystery and Miracle plays were often strung
    together to form a series known as a cycle
  • Often times, the story was taken out of the
    Biblical era and placed in present day. Also, the
    character were given conventional new names.
  • The plays mixed comedy and drama

Pageant Wagon
Medieval Theatre Production
  • The plays took place across Europe including
    Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and
  • Large stages were set up in the town square.
    These set ups were called mansions
  • Another convention was the use of pageant wagons
    which were rolling wagons that contained scenery
    and costuming including a backstage area and
    stage space.

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Medieval Theatre Production
  • The stage accommodated any change in scenery by
    standing as a universal set or unidentified
  • This freedom of movement based on imagination was
    later developed and perfected by Renaissance
    Theatre in Spain and England

The Performers
  • The performers were usually local trade workers
    called Craft guilds.
  • These lay people (silversmiths, leather workers,
    carpenters, etc) rehearsed extensively and
    provided their own costumes props
  • The productions could be quite lengthy, some
    lasted as long as 25 days.

The decline of the Middle Ages
  • Decline of religious theatre occurred due to the
    weakening of the church as a source of political
  • The Protestant Reformation was largely
    responsible for the decline of religious material
    and for the movement toward secular, or
    non-religious, theatre
  • The Renaissance is born!