medieval theater. 3 types miracle plays mystery plays morality plays

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Monday, Feb. 23

Medieval Theater

3 typesMiracle playsMystery playsMorality plays

Miracle playsA miracle play presents a real or fictitious account of the life, miracles, or martyrdom of a saint. By 1200s, they had been divorced from church services and were performed at public festivals. Almost all surviving miracle plays concern either the Virgin Mary or St. Nicholas, the 4th-century bishop of Myra in Asia Minor. (Encyclopedia Brittanica online)moreBoth Mary and Nicholas had active cults during the Middle Ages, and belief in the healing powers of saintly relics was widespread. Characters included the devil, a woman falsely accused of murdering her own child, and a pregnant abbess. Typical of these is a play called St. John the Hairy. At the outset the title character seduces and murders a princess. Upon capture, he is proclaimed a saint by an infant. He confesses his crime, whereupon God and Mary appear and aid John in reviving the princess, which done, the murderer saint is made a bishop. (Encyclopedia Britannica online)Why people knew Bible stories: medieval theaterNothing like we haveConnected to the church

Mystery Plays Put on by guilds (= mysteries)On top of a wagon (which sometimes would be paraded into town)Told Biblical stories to illiterate peopleVery elaborate, involving hundreds of peopleStill ongoing in places like York and ChesterWagonsSometimes quite simple

Wagon is brought in a parade

Evolved until it is more elaborate 2012 York Mystery CycleYork Mystery Cycle

What does this remind you of?

York mystery playsEach guild puts on one part, such as Guild of Goldsmiths Coming of the 3 KingsGuild of Shipwrights Building of the ArkGuild of Butchers Death of Christ

The starsGodJesusMartyred saintsEve being tempted by SatanFall of AdamNoah and the ArkElaborate Ark

Noah and family


The Life of Christ

Crucifixion of Christ

Second Shepherds PlayIs also a mystery play1385-1450Written by the Wakefield Master called a Master because his plays are so much better than any others written during that time. He used a poetic meter that was his alone and had his own rhyming style, too. He might have been a minor cleric (Jacobus 215). Master also wrote Noah and the Ark, the First Shepherds Play, Herod the Great, and The Buffeting.Wakefield CycleAlways in late May to early June (Corpus Christi celebration) lasted all day long from sunrise to sunsetActors were amateurs who did the play on a wagon. Note that there are social issues mentioned, such as poverty, taxes, prices (Jacobus 216).

Morality Plays

First in Latin, then EnglishCharacters:Vices (Ignorance, Greed, Riot)Virtues (Humility, Good Deeds)The Devil

Battle between vices and virtues

EverymanA Morality play, around 1495Author is anonymous but may have been a priest what is the evidence?Allegory! Each character has a distinctive name, costume, and props: Knowledge, Strength, Beauty, Death, Kindred, Goods, and so on.Lego movie of Everyman

Everyman may go to the devilA Simple Everyman Play

Everymans descendentsAllegorical drama continues on:Marlowes Dr. Faustus, an Everyman who confronts the devil, angels, Temptation, etc.Shakespeares Falstaff, the Vice become realAl Bryan Lagman under the direction of Mark Ryan Hernandez Filipino version which plays annuallySuperman and the comic heroesWho else?

And some non-religious plays, too


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