Medieval Theatre

Medieval Theatre
Theatre History
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 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 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
 New style: Mansions or Stations
 Theatre moved outside of the church to the
 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
 Acted out the stories
of Christ’s life
 Still performed today
in parts of England
and Germany
Morality Play
 teaching right and
 telling people how to
have a good life
 Famous Morality Play:
Note: we will be reading
Miracle Plays
 The lives of saints in the
 still acted today in England
Medieval Theatre
 10th Century
 Hell’s Mouth
 playwright:
 considered to be
-wrote comedies
-moved outside of
-too much action for
 staging in courtyard
 special effects used
 showed tortured souls
 featured realistic
Medieval Theatre
 shows an outdoor
play with Hell’s Mouth
and demons to scare
the viewers into being
better people
Feast of Fools
 Church festivals were run
by younger priest
Other stories done by
trade guilds
bakers- feeding 5000
Noah’s ark- ship
removed from church
some of characters were
too much like older priest
poked fun at superiors
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
Pictures of Pageant Wagons
Passion Plays
 Depict the life of
 Performed:
 first started as a
promise to God to
have town spared
from the Black
Plagues of the Dark
 in Germany
 in Spearfish, SD
Major Changes the Dark Ages brought
to Theatre
 viewers closer to the
 acting and dialogue
both became important
 mixed comic and
serious scenes in the
same play
 more theatre for the
common man

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