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Medieval Theatre. Theatre History. Medieval Theatre. Often called – The Dark Ages Not really a correct title start: Rome’s fall 476 AD end: 15 th Century 400 years no organized theatre - jugglers - traveling minstrels

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Medieval Theatre

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medieval theatre

Medieval Theatre

Theatre History

medieval theatre1
Medieval Theatre
  • Often called – The Dark Ages
  • Not really a correct title
  • start: Rome’s fall 476 AD
  • end: 15th Century
  • 400 years no organized theatre

- jugglers

- traveling minstrels

  • Catholic Church had total control of drama and art for a 1000 years
medieval theatre2
Medieval Theatre
  • The first theatre started in the church:

called- tropes

- drama scenes performed during the mass

- common people were illiterate

- started as tableaus

still scenes from the Bible

done at Christmas and Easter

medieval theatre3
Medieval Theatre
  • The next style of church drama was the pantomime
  • Then dialogue was added to the church dramas

- at first spoken in Latin

- then spoken in native language

medieval theatre mansions
Medieval Theatre- Mansions
  • New style: Mansions or Stations
  • Theatre moved outside of the church to the courtyard
  • Crowds moved from station to station
  • Plays performed:

Mystery- Bible stories of Christ

Miracle-Stories of the Saints

Morality- Stories of Right and Wrong

mystery play
Mystery Play
  • Acted out the stories of Christ’s life
  • Still performed today in parts of England and Germany
morality play
Morality Play
  • teaching right and wrong
  • telling people how to have a good life
  • Famous Morality Play:


Note: we will be reading this

miracle plays
Miracle Plays
  • The lives of saints in the church
  • still acted today in England
medieval theatre4
Medieval Theatre
  • 10th Century
  • playwright:


-wrote comedies

-moved outside of


-too much action for


  • staging in courtyard
  • special effects used
  • Hell’s Mouth
  • considered to be terrifying
  • showed tortured souls
  • featured realistic screams
medieval theatre5
Medieval Theatre
  • shows an outdoor play with Hell’s Mouth and demons to scare the viewers into being better people
feast of fools
Feast of Fools
  • Church festivals were run by younger priest
  • Other stories done by trade guilds

bakers- feeding 5000

Noah’s ark- ship builders

  • removed from church
  • some of characters were too much like older priest
  • poked fun at superiors
pageant wagons cycle plays
Pageant Wagons- Cycle Plays
  • double-decker wagons that traveled from town to town
  • resembled parade floats
  • still done in





  • Each new scene on different wagon
passion plays
Passion Plays
  • Depict the life of Christ
  • first started as a promise to God to have town spared from the Black Plagues of the Dark Ages
  • Performed:
  • in Germany
  • in Spearfish, SD
major changes the dark ages brought to theatre
Major Changes the Dark Ages brought to Theatre
  • viewers closer to the stage
  • acting and dialogue both became important
  • mixed comic and serious scenes in the same play
  • more theatre for the common man