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Medieval Theatre. 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D. A Dark time that brought Christianity to light. Early Middle Ages (500-900).

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medieval theatre

Medieval Theatre

500 A.D. to 1500 A.D.

A Dark time that brought Christianity to light.

early middle ages 500 900
Early Middle Ages (500-900)
  • In the time following the fall of the Roman Empire theatre had little importance. Small bands of performers—storytellers, jesters, tumblers, jugglers-- traveled and performed wherever they could find an audience.
early middle ages 500 9001
Early Middle Ages (500-900)
  • Secular theatre died in Western Europe with the fall of Rome
  • Theatrical performances were banned by the Church as barbaric and pagan
  • Most Roman theatre had been spectacle rather than literary drama
roman literary drama
Roman Literary Drama
  • Origins in Greek drama and Roman festivals
  • Playwrights
    • Tragedy: Seneca
    • Comedy: Terence and Plautus
roman spectacle
Roman Spectacle
  • Gladiatorial combats
  • Naval battles in a flooded Coliseum
liturgical drama
Liturgical Drama
  • The Church was responsible for the rebirth of European theatre
  • The Church needed ways to teach illiterate parishioners: cathedrals, stained glass windows, sculpture, painting and drama
the 3 m s of medieval plays
The 3 M’s of Medieval Plays
  • Mystery plays: Based on Biblical stories
  • Miracle plays: Based on the lives of the saints
  • Morality plays: allegories
  • Passion plays based on the last week in the life of Christ.
  • Trope -short dramatized scenes added to the Catholic mass.
  • Cycles– a series of short plays based on religious history
  • Allegory - a symbolical narrative; the representation of abstract ideas by characters
staging the plays
Staging the Plays
    • Pageant wagons
    • Travel a set route and perform at several locations: like a parade.
    • Mansions
    • A series of stages would be set up around the town square
    • Anchored at either end by Heaven and Hell
    • Elaborate special effects such as floods, flying and fiery pits were very popular
pageant wagons
Pageant Wagons
  • A multi-level cart that doubled as a stage.
  • The underside was the dressing rooms.
  • Each guild would create a wagon for their part of the cycle.
guilds and cycle plays
Guilds and Cycle Plays
  • Guilds were groups of tradesmen (bakers, goldsmiths, etc.) whose trade was responsible for part of a story from the Bible which, when combined, made a cycle.
  • Each guild would compete with the others to see who could produce the most elaborate story.
works cited
Works Cited