In a coda to season 3 somewhere in England an acting troupe travels through a cold December at the tale end of the Medieval period, in search of an audience. A fictional account using the facts and assumptions discussed in the Medieval Theatre season of the podcast.
With the Reformation came the final end of the great Religious plays of the medieval period. The episode sumarises the great trends of medieval theatre and charts the final end as Europe descended into religious disagreement.
A reminder of the journey from the religious trope, thorough the folk festivals, the cycle plays, the saints play, the morality play and the interlude.
The end of Medieval Theatre as brought about by the Reformation and political and sociological changes.
Some final thoughts on the legacy of Medieval Theatre.
Once the medieval theatre had moved out of the confines of the church and away from religious obligation a form of commercial theatre began, but how was money spent and income generated and was it profitable?
The rise of commercial theatre through the Interlude and the Travelling Players
Play expenses and income
The rising costs of the Cycle Plays and other entertainments
The actors contract
The production of ‘Mystery Des Trois Doms’ and what it tells us about collaboration
The relationship between the concerns of the Church, the State, and the Guilds
The Castle of Perseverance is a great example of how difficult it can be to discuss the form of a play separately from the content and in this case we have an illustration that shows how the play might have been presented
A summary of the plot of the play
Details from the manuscript about dating the play
The illustration contained in the manuscript reviewed in detail
The problems with the way the audience might have been positioned and the play presented
The role of the ‘Stytlery’
The ditch and how it might have been used.
To see the illustration discussed in this episode go to […]
The Morality play is a type of play that for all its similarities and shared heritage with the Corpus Christi cycle plays brought something new to the world of drama and had a profound effect on the future development of theatre.
How the Morality Plays are different from Cycle Plays
The Development of the ideas around the seven vices and virtues and how they developed into personified characters
The development of education in the Middle Ages and the influence on monastic preaching
The presentation of Morality plays and the move away from the church feast day
The history of the Harrowing of Hell and the way it was portrayed in the cycle plays, including some thoughts on how it would have been staged and how the play comes alive when the demons and devils take to the stage.
The play of Noah and the Great Flood must have provided the medieval set designers with some real challenges. Some thoughts on how that might have been done and a look at some of the detail around the story of Mrs Noah, doves, ravens and Rainbows.
The Second Shepherds play is considered the best of the medieval cycle plays. In this episode I take a look at not only the second shepherds play, but the first play as well, which is often overlooked.
Why are there two shepherd’s plays in this cycle?
The plot and characters in the first play
The plot and charaters in the second play
The similarities and differences between the plays
What the plays say about the social conditions of the time
Stage sets, costuming and special effects became quite sophisticated in the cycle plays during the sixteenth century. This episode looks at the examples of stage sets that we have from Valenciennes. You can see the drawing that is described in the podcast here:
A look at evidence for costuming the has survived
And then we take a look at the the different stager special effects used to impress the audience, especially the representations of Hell’s Mouth, with associated demons, fires and pyrotechnics.
The instigation of the Corpus Christi feat day too theatre out of the church and into the town and village. This episode looks at the development of the celebration of the new feast day and how the new trades guilds and other organisations took over the production of biblical plays from the church.
An understanding of the theology behind the feast day is important to an understanding of how the plays developed, so this is outlined and the concepts of time and place within the plays is discussed.
Then it’s on to more practical matters such as learning lines and […]
The Synod of Winchester issued direction on the performance of the Trope in 960 and the door was open for further developments on other feast days.
Then a look at other church festivals with dramatic elements. The Boy Bishop, The Day of Fools and the Festival of the Ass.
And in the late twelfth century the Trope starts to get too big for the likes of some in the church as stage directions get more complicated and props and scenery get put to use to represent individual places and characters.
The story of how theatre found it’s way into the church service on the most important days in the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day. For a long time drama was a small elaboration to the massif the same way music, architecture and art were only included to amplify the message of the service and the word of God. Following a lot at their impact and use we get to the Trope, but it that really the beginnings of church drama? The Synod of Winchester in 970 might just have the answer.