Medieval Theatre. Medieval Theatre. Time frame: 5 th c- mid 16 th c Secular theatre died in Western Europe with the fall of Rome Theatrical performances were banned by the Roman Catholic Church as barbaric and pagan Most Roman theatre had been spectacle rather than literary drama.
When the third lesson of the matins is chanted, let four brethren [monks] dress themselves; of whom let one, wearing an alb, enter as if to take part in the service; and let him without being observed approach the place of the sepulcher, where, holding a palm in his hand, let him sit quietly. Set and costumes
While the third responsory is being sung, let the remaining three brethren follow, all of them wearing copes and carrying censors filled with incense. Then slowly, in the manner of seeking something, let them move toward the place of the sepulcher. These things are to be performed in imitation of the Angel seated in the tomb, and of the women coming with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. When therefore the seated angel shall see the three women, as if straying about and looking for something, approach him, let him begin to sing in a dulcet voice of medium pitch: Stage directions
Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, O celestial one.
To whom that one: He is not here; he is risen, just as he foretold. Go, announce that he is risen from the dead.
At the word of this command, let the three turn to the choir, and say:
Alleluia! The Lord is risen today, The strong lion, the Christ, the Son of God. Give thanks to God, eia!¡ ¡hurrah! Dialogue
This said, let the Angel, again seating himself, as if recalling them, sing the anthem
Venite, et Videte locum-- Music Come, and see the place where the Lord was lad. Alleluia! Alleluia!
And saying this, let him rise, and let him lift the veil and show them the place bare of the cross, but only the cloths lying there with which the cross was wrapped. Seeing this, let the women set down the censers they carried into the sepulcher, and let them pick up the cloth and spread it out before the eyes of the clergy; and, as if making known that the Lord had risen and was not now wrapped in this linen, Stage directions
let them sing this anthem Surrexit Dominus de Sepulchro--The Lord is risen from the sepulcher, Who for us hung on the cross. MusicAnd let them place the cloth upon the altar. The anthem being ended, let the Prior, rejoicing with them at the triumph of our king, in that having conquered death, he arose, begin the hymn:
Te, Deum, laudamus--We Praise thee, O God.
Chester Mystery Plays
York Mystery Plays
The Lichfield Mysteries
B.J. Elvgren. Quilt: depicting scenes from Chester’s 14th century dramas set against modern city landmarks – Chester Cathedral
Pageant wagons would
travel a set route and perform at several locations: like a parade or
would be set up around a town square and the audience would travel from one wagon to the next to see the performances
Mansions or 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 popularStaging the Plays