Medieval Theatre History Theatre 1-2 Medieval Period Time Frame 300 CE to 1300 CE Drama owes its rebirth to the Catholic Church 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. Performers were nuns, priests and choirboys. Quem quaeritis in sepulchro, O Christicole? Jesum Nazarenum crucifixum, O caelicolae. Non est hic, surrexit sicut praedixerat. Ite, nuntiate quia surrexit de sepulchro. Whom seek ye in the sepulchre, O Christian women? Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified, O heavenly one. He is not here; He is risen, as he foretold. Go, announce that He has risen from the sepulchre Continued… Church drama expands to present more and more Bible stories: Miracle and Mystery Plays: Based on the lives of saints and stories of Bible Passion Play: Last week of Jesus’ life. First performed in 1634 in Germany. Performed every ten years since 1760. Performance in 1980 drew 600,000. Mystery Play Plays performed with Mansions Mansions: Various acting stations placed in a line, each one a different Biblical location such as: Heaven, Hell, Jerusalem, et cetera. Staging the Plays Example of Medieval Mansions Inside the church, the audience moved from one mansion to the next to see each scene. A mansion is a scenic façade that marks the location of the scene Eventually the plays became too large and had to be staged outside the church. Medieval trade unions (guilds) presented most Miracle and Mystery plays. 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): Forerunner for modern stage. Wagons traveled from town to town. Audience would stay in one spot while wagons moved through one by one. Entire sequence called a cycle. Wandering groups begin presenting Miracle and Mystery plays: Originators of first acting companies. Mystery Plays Plot & Characters taken from books of the bible It was, initially, the most prominent form of liturgical drama The best examples are the cycle plays of England. Cycle plays are a series of short plays performed over a longer period of time. An example of a Mystery play is The Passion Play Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden of Eden in a modern production of a mystery play. Morality plays are also popular at the time: These dramas were based on the spiritual trials of the average man Deals with principles of right and wrong echoed in the Bible. Miracle Plays St. Nicholas Plot is built around the lives and works of the saints Usually performed on the saint’s feast day Some scripts were biblical, others were not Example: the four St. Nicholas plays presented on St. Nicholas Day, in Latin, on December 6th. Morality Plays Dramas based on the spiritual trials of the average person The plays were allegories about moral temptations The action of the drama was the battle of good and evil to possess a person’s soul. Best example: Everyman From the manuscript Castle of Perseverance (c. 1400). Instructions for staging a morality play.