This collection of essays offers new perspectives that foster our understanding
of the crucial role the Bible played in medieval culture as well as in the wake
of the Reformation across Europe. The thirteen essays open up new horizons for
the study of biblical drama by putting special emphasis on periodisation, the
intersections of biblical narrative and performance, and the strategies employed
by playwrights to rework and adapt the biblical source material. Special
emphasis is placed on multitemporality, transnationality, and the modalities of
performance and form in relation to the uses of the Bible in medieval and early
modern drama. The three aspects are intertwined: particular modalities of
performance evolve, adapt and are re-created as they intersect with different
historical times and circumstances. These intersections pertain to aspects such
as dramatic traditions, confessional and religious rites, dogmas and debates,
conceptualisations of performance and form, and audience response – whenever the
Bible is evoked for performative purposes. The collection thus stresses the
co-presence of biblical and contemporary concerns in the periods under
discussion, conceiving of biblical drama as a central participant in the dynamic
struggle to both interpret and translate the Bible.
meaning and structure will be analysed in more
detail and brought into closer connection with the ‘dramatic’ qualities of this
Holy Sonnet. The communicative situation which resembles a soliloquy contributes
to the dramatic quality of the poem and lends it coherence. The various topics
raised in the sonnet – approaching death, colours, sin, grace, the allusion to
medievaldrama, the form of the soliloquy – thus turn out to belong together:
-looking or valuable chiefly through processes of typological reading, the structures of ‘prophecy’ and ‘fulfilment’ established in Matthew 2 suggest that the gospel is not overwriting the Hebrew past but deferring to its authority. This process is emphasised in the two incidents of Herod’s recourse to his ‘bookys’ in the Towneley Magi and Herod the Great pageants, which show how Herod’s reading of Hebrew texts as ‘prophecy’ directs his response to the rumours of a new king.
Herod: a true King of the ‘Jews’?
The Herod of English medievaldrama has arguably attracted
the proto-novels of the late classical period and the inventive and
fantastical compositions of Rabelais, on which Bakhtin went on to expatiate in the later Rabelais and His World (Bakhtin, 1968), came the
presentations of medievaldrama, in both their serious and their more
subverted forms. The dramatised allegory of morality plays seemingly
arose in England, probably from about the end of the fourteenth century,
and developed in France and elsewhere. Mystery and miracle plays began
Antecedents to the absurd
to appear as early as the ninth century and
, so female experiences of time in medievaldrama often differ from male experiences. 32 While time is not consistently ‘gendered’ in the plays, this book finds that several of the male characters it encounters – Joseph, Herod, Mak and Noah – tend to desire and expect time to be structured, whether this involves the passive assumption of a linear continuation of a certain state of time, the anticipation of the beginning of a new era, an attempt to conform to a linear family timeline based on reproduction, or an active attempt to direct the course of time. Where
Fantasies of supersession and explosive questions in the York and Chester
relationship between speech act and intent changes again, as the aim of medieval performance was not, as in later, post-Stanislavski eras, to embody the past, but to re-present it. 105 Evidence from tracts such as the ‘Tretise of Miraclis Pleyinge’ does raise broader anxieties concerning the relationship between Crucifixion-time and medieval time through the ‘playing out’ of Christ’s tortures. 106 However, the frequency with which swearing appears across all forms of late medievaldrama indicates that it is probable that belief in the performative violence of swearing did
Claude even claimed aristocratic status, through her marriage to a
local noble. All of these women play a part in my story, with their
intertwined histories standing in for the performing women of
Metz as a whole.
Of these four figures, the actor and patron are most familiar to
scholars of medievaldrama, having inspired many questions and
few answers. Awareness of the Catherine actor and Catherine
Baudoche is common, yet the relevance of each and their Saint
Catherine jeu to broader histories of performance remains obscure.
Very little is
. In the first part, titled ‘Medievaldrama’, the focus is on English mystery plays preserved in the Towneley, Chester, York, and N-Town Cycles. Lawrence Besserman discusses the role of Noah's wife – a voiceless cipher in the biblical account – as a radical, impious questioning of both patriarchal and divine authority. He argues that in the performative foregrounding of this character, her refusal to board the Ark can be seen as coinciding with the emergence of outspoken female critics (e.g. Margery Kempe, Joan White, anonymous female Lollard ‘preachers’) of a male
replacement of the Holy Women's traditional spice container, the liturgical thurible, with secular apothecary pots, and of its promotion of the spice merchant as the source of their spices. Having investigated why medievaldrama developed the merchant scene, we now turn to the play-texts to gain insights into its development on Europe's religious stages. Specialists date the Uta Codex image of the Holy Women and the spice merchant to the early eleventh century ( c. 1020). This image pre-dates by over half a century any other documented representations of a spice merchant
An enactive reading of the Middle English cycle plays
Eva von Contzen
reconstructed, imagined) performance.
For medievaldrama, Jill Stevenson has demonstrated the merits of cognitive approaches, which can also fruitfully complement traditional literary theory. She uses conceptual blending and mirror neuron responses as two promising areas of cognitive research for medieval theatre scholarship.
Both these theories can enhance our insight into audience engagement and the multi-layered aspects of the