8 facts about Medieval Theatre

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Middle Ages Theatre – 8 Facts
1) Middle Age Theatre in Europe is between the Roman Theatre Era and the Renaissance Theatre Era. European Middle Ages
is also known as Medieval (Latin for Middle) Era, and as the Dark Ages. It lasted from 500 ADE – 1500 ADE.
2) Middle Age Theatre in Europe can be classified into three eras – Early, High, and Late Middle Ages. During the Early Middle
Ages (500-1000), theatre was thought to be “evil and vile” and was banned. During the High Middle Ages ( 1000-1300) the
Christian Churches used theatre to teach about Christianity. During the Late Middle Ages (1300-1500), Theatre shifted from
religious control to nonreligious control.
3) Roman Theatre often was quite bloody and directed against Christians., but when the Roman Empire fell, the Christians
gained control, and they outlawed theatre Roving groups of performers, such as jugglers and acrobats, traveled place to
place to perform. This was the Theatre of the Early Middle Ages (500-1000)
4) High Middle Ages (1000-1300) , Christian Churches were in charge of theatre; There were 3 types – all religious in nature:
a. Mystery Plays – Plays based on scenes from the bible (Trope – a scene from the bible sometimes performed as a
tableaux; Cycle – A series of tropes
b. Miracle Plays- Plays about the lives of Christian Saints
c. Morality Plays- Plays to teach people how to live their lives according t the rules of the church
i. Characters in these plays were personifications of human characteristics: Good, Evil, Love, Hope, etc…
5) High Middle Age plays were sometimes performed in churches, and sometimes outside on movable stages called pageant
wagons. Sometimes these plays traveled from city to city.
6) Plays performed in Latin (the language of the church) were called Liturgical Play, and plays that were perform in the
language of the people were called Vernacular Plays
7) Plays in the Late Middle Ages (1300-1500) shifted from religious to non-religious (called secular) because the plays were
becoming too time consuming and too complex for the churches to maintain. Craft Guilds (skilled workers, Ex Carpenters,
Tailors, etc…) took over the plays from the church, and the stories of these plays became less for educational purposes and
more for entertainment.
8) Two types of plays from the Late Middle Ages were secular…
a. Mummeries – Plays that were comic in nature that featured a hero, a villain, and a fool who was the butt of
everyone’s jokes. The hero would die in a mummery, but would be resurrected by the end of the story
b. Manners Plays – Another play that was comic in nature, that made fun how people behaved
Middle Ages Theatre – 8 Facts
1) Middle Age Theatre in Europe is between the Roman Theatre Era and the Renaissance Theatre Era. European Middle Ages
is also known as Medieval (Latin for Middle) Era, and as the Dark Ages. It lasted from 500 ADE – 1500 ADE.
2) Middle Age Theatre in Europe can be classified into three eras – Early, High, and Late Middle Ages. During the Early Middle
Ages (500-1000), theatre was thought to be “evil and vile” and was banned. During the High Middle Ages ( 1000-1300) the
Christian Churches used theatre to teach about Christianity. During the Late Middle Ages (1300-1500), Theatre shifted from
religious control to nonreligious control.
3) Roman Theatre often was quite bloody and directed against Christians., but when the Roman Empire fell, the Christians
gained control, and they outlawed theatre Roving groups of performers, such as jugglers and acrobats, traveled place to
place to perform. This was the Theatre of the Early Middle Ages (500-1000)
4) High Middle Ages (1000-1300) , Christian Churches were in charge of theatre; There were 3 types – all religious in nature:
a. Mystery Plays – Plays based on scenes from the bible (Trope – a scene from the bible sometimes performed as a
tableaux; Cycle – A series of tropes
b. Miracle Plays- Plays about the lives of Christian Saints
c. Morality Plays- Plays to teach people how to live their lives according t the rules of the church
i. Characters in these plays were personifications of human characteristics: Good, Evil, Love, Hope, etc…
5) High Middle Age plays were sometimes performed in churches, and sometimes outside on movable stages called pageant
wagons. Sometimes these plays traveled from city to city.
6) Plays performed in Latin (the language of the church) were called Liturgical Play, and plays that were perform in the
language of the people were called Vernacular Plays
7) Plays in the Late Middle Ages (1300-1500) shifted from religious to non-religious (called secular) because the plays were
becoming too time consuming and too complex for the churches to maintain. Craft Guilds (skilled workers, Ex Carpenters,
Tailors, etc…) took over the plays from the church, and the stories of these plays became less for educational purposes and
more for entertainment.
8) Two types of plays from the Late Middle Ages were secular…
a. Mummeries – Plays that were comic in nature that featured a hero, a villain, and a fool who was the butt of
everyone’s jokes. The hero would die in a mummery, but would be resurrected by the end of the story
b. Manners Plays – Another play that was comic in nature, that made fun how people behaved
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