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Medieval Theater

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Medieval Theater 500-1400 C.E. The Dark Ages (500-1000 C.E.) Much political turmoil no reliable political structure Feudalism: Lords, vassals, serfs The Church was ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Medieval Theater


1
Medieval Theater
  • 500-1400 C.E.

2
The Dark Ages (500-1000 C.E.)
  • Much political turmoil
  • no reliable political structure
  • Feudalism Lords, vassals, serfs
  • The Church was the only stable "government"
  • The church exerted increasing influence
  • In the 4th Century, the Bishop of Rome
    established supremacy in church matters and in
    secular concerns
  • Church edicts against secular performers
  • Not much theater
  • Traveling singers and storytellers
  • Traveling troupes of circus-like entertainers

3
Hrosvitha of Gandersheim (935-1001 C.E.)
  • Earliest known female dramatist
  • A German nun
  • Wrote religious plays based on Terence's plays
  • Terences style, but Christian stories
  • Were probably closet dramas
  • meant to be read, not performed
  • Purpose was to glorify Christian virgins

4
Theatre is Reborn!
  • Changes in music
  • Tropes
  • Extended musical passages spread throughout
    Catholic Mass
  • Lyrics added later
  • Quem quaeritis
  • Trope added into Easter service in 925
  • Angel asked, Whom do you seek? to three Marys
    visiting tomb of Christ

5
Quem quaeritis?
  • Quem quaeritis in sepulchro, o Christicolae?
  • Jesum Nazarenum crucifixum, o caelicolae.
  • Non est hic surrexit, sicut praedixerat. Ite,
    nuntiate quia surrexit de sepulchro
  • Translation
  • The Angels Whom do ye seek in the sepulcher, O
    followers of Christ?
  • The Marys Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified, O
    heavenly ones.
  • The Angels He is not here he is risen, just as
    he foretold. Go, announce that he is risen from
    the sepulcher.
  • John Glassner, editor, Medieval and Tudor Drama.

6
Liturgical Dramas
  • By 975, church began incorporating drama into the
    service
  • Clergy presented with assistance from choirboys
  • Written in Latin
  • Many playlets developed dealing with biblical
    themes
  • Mostly performed for Easter, Christmas, the 12th
    Night (Feast of the Epiphany)
  • Usually serious, but at the Feast of Fools much
    dancing, foolishness and parodies of church
    practices

7
Staging Liturgical Drama
  • Different scenes set up simultaneously in
    mansions
  • Mansions scenic structure depicting some locale
    needed for a biblical tale
  • Could be specially constructed or an existing
    area within church
  • Used to indicate locale, but too small to perform
    in
  • Would initiate play at a mansion and move to
    platea

8
Vernacular Drama
  • Moved outdoors
  • Written in language people spoke
  • Two types of Vernacular religious dramas
  • Mystery or cycle plays
  • Morality plays

9
Mystery/Cycle Plays
  • Depicted scenes from the Bible
  • From Creation to the last judgment
  • Presented in cycles
  • Series of short dramas of an episode
  • Lasted several hours or several days
  • Staged independently of church services
  • Presented in spring and summer during festivals
  • Feast of Corpus Christi was a favorite time

10
Reaching the Audience
  • Anachronism presenting characters and events
    outside proper historical sequence
  • Makes characters more identifiable to audiences
  • Highlighted the spectacular
  • 1501 production of the Flood used barrels of
    water to make it rain for 5 minutes
  • Comedy introduced to make it more appealing

11
Producing Mystery Plays
  • Produced once every 2-10 years
  • Confraternities, or craft guilds, assigned to a
    particular appropriate cycle
  • Shipbuilders produce Noahs Ark
  • Bakers guild produce Last Supper
  • Pageant Masters supervised productions
  • Responsible for construction of scenery, stage,
    casting, disciplining actors, money takers, and
    narrator between plays

12
Acting
  • Amateur actors doubled roles
  • Fewer than 5 rehearsals for a cycle
  • Fined for missing or disrupting a rehearsal
  • Typecasting
  • Choosing people who have certain qualities in
    real life to play characters with similar
    qualities
  • Provided own costumes Church assisted with more
    unusual costumes

13
Staging
  • Processional Staging
  • Cycle set up on pageant wagons
  • Could be moved from locale to locale
  • Stationary Staging
  • Series of small scenic mansions stood side by
    side with huge platform stage
  • Heaven and Hell mansions placed at opposite ends
    of platform
  • Important neutral platform playing area

14
These pictures were taken during the performance
of the York Cycle of Mystery Plays in Toronto on
June 20, 1998.
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21
The Second Shepherds Play
  • Dramatizes the biblical story of the shepherds
    who are told about Christs birth by an angel
  • First section is comedic
  • Stealing a sheep and find it in a crib,
    pretending its a newborn baby
  • Second section is the Holy Nativity
  • First section sets stage for nativity
  • Shepherds are characters from Middle Ages
  • Reflects secular farce mixed with religious
    subject matter

22
The Second Shepherd's Play 1972 UMBC
Department of Theatre
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27
Morality Plays
  • Attempts to teach a moral lesson through use of
    allegorical characters
  • People represent ideas
  • Characters take journey through which they learn
    moral lesson
  • Struggle between two forces, good and evil, for
    soul of main character
  • Staging was similar to cycle plays
  • Neutral platform stage

28
Everyman
  • Best known example of a morality play
  • Character Everyman told by Death that his earthly
    life is over
  • Everyman seeks companion to accompany him to next
    world
  • Speaks to characters representing abstract ideas,
    but only Good Deeds will go with him to afterlife
  • Lesson to Everyman (humanity) only Good Deeds
    can be of any assistance when one is summoned by
    Death

29
Quiz
  1. What does vernacular mean?
  2. What does Quem Quaeritis mean?
  3. Why is Quem Quaeritis important to theater?
  4. What is an anachronism?
  5. Name a mystery play.
  6. Name a morality play.
  7. Who was responsible for cycle play productions?
  8. What is a mansion?
  9. Name the favorite festival in which cycle plays
    were performed.
  10. What did the Bishop of Rome establish?
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