Manual Gender and Medieval Drama

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The focus of this study is upon the Corpus Christi plays, supplemented by other performance practices such as festive and social entertainments, civic parades.
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The DVD also includes an array of special features, with the documentary being most appealing for classroom use. The documentary walks the viewer through the early casting process, including a discussion of how the casting calls were made through the extensive network of South African choruses in order to take advantage of the rich musical history of the region.

Several of the actors appear in interviews, speaking about their individual audition process, with some of the lead actors discussing their initial reluctance to audition, as they were convinced that they had no chance of success. The end result is a DVD of a remarkable production. The combination of music, multicultural influences, cycle drama, language and stagecraft make this a phenomenal resource for any classroom. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

YouTube, 2 Aug. Staged at The Cloisters, this short production opens in the middle of the play, with the three shepherds confronting the thieving Mak and his wife, who have attempted to pass off the stolen lamb as their newborn child. He came to the United States from Poland after being imprisoned in a concentration camp during World War 2. His children have also gone on to make their mark in the arts, as his daughter is alt-rock musician Poe, and his son is novelist Mark Danielewski House of Leaves. Sarah Peverly. YouTube, 12 June Performed for an apparently impromptu audience at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in May of , this production features a clear attempt at being family friendly and culturally relevant.

The flood, a difficult effect to pull off in a student production performed outdoors on a sunny day, was signified by music. While this is a student production, director Sarah Peverley gets the most out of an energetic group of young actors.

This production would work well in tandem with other performances of the Chester Noah play as a comparative analysis activity. Students could contrast the use of song in this production and the South African production of The Mysteries , for example. Ultimately, there are dozens of productions to be found on the internet, from professional theater to student projects.

The few included in this bibliography should be seen only as an example of the video resources that can be found on Youtube and other similar websites. Paster, Gail Kern. During the winter season of , the Folger Theatre in Washington D. While it is not possible to take students back to to see the actual production, the Folger Shakespeare Library website has provided plenty of useful pedagogical material that can still be used in classrooms today. The link listed here leads to a series of three audio documentaries, hosted by noted scholar Gail Kern Paster.

Even though the play itself does not mention music often, Eisenstein and Surface opted to make the Consort an active part of the show. Surface explains that they had every musician play a part, ranging from actual characters to inanimate objects on the stage. About six minutes into the recording, the actors and directors discuss potential meanings of a single line, debating whether or not a character actually believes that the lamb is a real baby, and the implications of that question for their performance. That discussion would serve as a good model for the types of questions students could and should ask about the text.

These engaging academics discuss the standard view of theater history—that there were the Greeks and Shakespeare, with nothing much in between.

Curated by the School of Advanced Study

They take issue with that view, arguing in favor of viewing medieval drama as plays unto themselves rather than simply precursors to Shakespeare. Particularly interesting is their discussion of the interactive nature of medieval mystery plays, even going so far as to compare them to big modern parades or Mardi Gras. They question whether the town of Wakefield could have even financially supported a Corpus Christi Cycle, and they ultimately end up at a point where they note that, in medieval studies, the gaps in the record often highlight the importance of the texts themselves as the focus of our research.

All three documentary clips are intercut with performed lines from the Folger production of the play.

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Many of these are even classroom-ready activities, such as a page that offers a look at some of the words from the play that are now forgotten. There are pages featuring production photographs, a page providing links for further research on topics including mystery plays, scholarship, and even links to websites on sheep and the wool trade. There are pages on the various instruments used in the production, complete with audio clips that would allow students to hear the distinct sounds made by fiddles, lutes, bagpipes and recorders.

In short, the Folger website, long known as a must-visit site for Shakespeare pedagogical material, offers plenty of resources for medieval drama as well. The Lincoln Mystery Plays. Lincoln Mystery Plays Trust Ltd, n. The Lincoln Mysteries have been regularly performed since , and in their present form, based on a Keith Ramsay translation of the N-Town Cycle, since on a four-year cycle.

While a trip to England during a performance year would be ideal, the website for this modern production offers the next-best thing. Right from the home page, it offers a video featuring scholarly discussion of the history and production of medieval mystery cycles, before ultimately transitioning into a series of scene clips and compilations of scenes from earlier productions set to music.

With every click, the website offers up interesting material that could be useful in a classroom. There are photo galleries of productions—organized by production year—dating all the way back to There is an archive section containing digital reproductions of previous programs, critical reviews, and even more photographs. Not only does the website offer students a look at a modern production of a mystery cycle, but it also offers them a modern cycle with a unique and well-documented history. Students can use this site to see how one cycle has changed and adapted over its more than thirty year history, which could be a wonderful starting point for classroom discussions of the plays themselves.

Normington, Katie. Cambridge: DS Brewer, Normington is particularly persuasive in her discussion of three millennial productions of mystery cycles. Many texts use the term to refer to the same set of cycle plays from the previous section of this bibliography. Like the mystery plays, miracle plays were connected to the celebratory religious calendar, and were often written and performed to honor a local patron saint.

While saintly conversion may not sound like an overly engaging topic for students, these plays frequently place a heavier emphasis on the sinners seeking salvation.

Gender and Medieval Drama

The characters in miracle plays are not only entertaining, but they also provide an excellent opportunity for classroom discussions on the role of salvation in early dramatic texts, whether the characters were worthy of that salvation, and why medieval audiences may have desired to see such displays of salvation. I have included here a selection of materials, including editions, sources for research, and audio and visual productions of one text.

Harvey, Carol J. Dublin: Four Courts Press, Harvey offers a detailed account of the manuscript and its history, demonstrating how the manuscript established dramatic trends on the 14 th century French stage. The bailiff, portrayed as bloodthirsty in the rest of the play, assents, thus providing the opportunity for the salvation of her soul. Harvey specifically selects plays that demonstrate important elements within the genre, including fall and redemption, sin and sickness, war and peace, and challenging social conventions, among others.

Malcolmson, Anne, ed. London: Constable and Co. This intriguing text opens with a dedication explaining the origin of the text. Malcolmson immediately thought of the Chester Noah play, but realized that, at the time, it was only available in early modern English. Her solution was to translate the play for the young actors, and her project continued from that beginning. In the first, Saint Nicholas is an active character who uses divine intervention to expose dishonesty.

Irvin on Normington, 'Medieval English Drama' | H-Catholic | H-Net

In the second, it is a statue of Saint Nicholas, in true relic tradition, that performs the miracle. The text is delightfully illustrated by Pauline Baynes, and would serve as an excellent introduction to both cycle drama and miracle plays.

The text might be difficult to track down, as it is long out of print, but it is an ideal option for struggling readers, and it is generally inexpensive when found on the used book market. Donald C. Baker, John L. Murphy, and Louis B. Hall Jr. Two of the best-known extant miracle plays, The Conversion of St. Paul and Mary Magdalen , were first gathered in the Digby Manuscript. This edition offers a Middle English transcription of those plays complete with an extensive introduction covering the history of the larger manuscript and an analysis of the plays within that manuscript, including information on sources of the plays, versification, staging, and language.

This is a rigorous scholarly edition, with copious endnotes and an extensive suggested bibliography that would be useful for source mining. While the text is as accurate to the manuscript as possible, the result is that this is a text best reserved for challenging high-level students.

Brock, Alice J. Dallas: Paon Press, Less concerned about maintaining the Middle English, Brock and Byrd have created a text that is accessible for all students. This edition includes a brief preface, discussing the history and construction of the Digby Manuscript, and then modernized versions of the Digby plays, including the two miracle plays, The Conversion of St.

Paul , and Mary Magdalene.

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Sebastian, John T. Croxton Play of the Sacrament. Ogden, Dunbar H. The Play of Daniel: Critical Essays. Though difficult to find, this text would make a wonderful addition to a curriculum and a classroom. The Play of Daniel is a twelfth-century musical production of the story of Daniel, a man who literally reads the writing on the wall that predicts the overthrow of the king.

When those events come to pass, Daniel is thrown to the lions, until God, sending an angel, intervenes on his behalf.


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After an introduction by Ogden, the text features essays on The Play of Daniel , focusing on twelfth-century staging, issues of divine judgment and local ideology, modern performances, and music. Ogden includes visual reproductions of several pages of the play from the Egerton Manuscript. The text also includes a transcription of both the music and the text of the play itself, including a very accessible English translation by A.

Marcel J.

Lyons, William, cond. Play of Daniel. Dufay Collective. Harmonia Mundi Fr. While the text is in Latin, this potential resource offers students an opportunity to experience the combination of words and music that made The Play of Daniel , first performed by twelfth-century choristers, so popular in the first place. While students might not be interested in listening to all 34 tracks, the MP3 version would allow teachers to download selected tracks, that could be matched with the text in Ogden or Bevington.

YouTube, 29 Mar. While the play, like the Dufay Collective audio recording, is not in English, the combination of music and movement makes it relatively easy to follow the plot. Boss, Sarah Jane. London: Cassell, Since drama is itself a visual form, students may gain insight by drawing corollaries between the statuary and portraiture that Boss discusses, and elements of the plays read in class.