The Dark Ages • After the fall of the Roman Empire, during the Dark Ages also known as the Middle Ages or Medieval times, theatre diminished from its splendor of the Roman era. • In the beginning of the Middle Ages, small nomadic bands traveled around performing wherever there was an audience.
Performers consisted of storytellers, jesters, jugglers and many other performers. • Later, festivals cropped up where entertainers would show their talents.
The Dark Ages • The powerful Catholic Church during the Middle Ages tried to get rid of performances and convert the entertainers, insisting that acting and traveling performances were sinful.
450 SD- 1450 AD Later , the Roman Catholic Church helped to revive theatre in the Middle Ages . This theatrical type of church service was called “The Hours.” These were dramatized short Bible stories that originally were done around Easter time. The performers were priests and monks, and music was used in the performance. They plays told of popular Bible stories, and most were performed in monasteries. Only religious plays were performed , and only in churches until around 1200.
Popular Dramatized Stories • Popular Religious Plays: • The story of Mary visiting Christ's tomb to discover Christ's resurrection. • Daniel in the lion’s den. • Lazarus raised from the dead. • The conversion of St. Paul. • Jesus' crucifixion, however, was rarely dramatized until the early 1300s.
Medieval Scenery • Small scenic structures called mansions were used to illustrate the surroundings of a play. • Small plays had only one mansion, longer plays had two or more.
Medieval Costuming • Costumes for the church (liturgical) dramas were church clothing to with real or symbolic accessories added. • Most of the lines of the dramas were chanted in Latin rather than spoken in the familiar language of the area. Lucifer portrayed in a Medieval performance.
Late in Middle Ages religious plays were performed outside the churches. • This small step made it possible for many other changes in medieval drama. • The formation of guilds, the growth of towns, and a decline of political armies known as feudalism gave theatre opportunities to develop once again • From 1200 to 1350 non-religious plays about common events took over the number one spot previously taken by religious plays.
Cycle Plays • Many plays were performed outdoors during spring and summer • Cycle plays also became popular. The cycle plays were made from many short plays or that were like episodes and were mostly religious. • Cycle plays could last a few hours or 25 or more days to perform. • The were a variety of cycle plays, but usually they were about religious figures, biblical writings of the church and sermons of the church. • The plays had little sense of chronology, and most of their authors were anonymous. Pageant Wagon
Near the end of the 1300s, the Roman Catholic Church was less controlling of the production of plays, but it kept an eye on the contents of plays and their presentation. • Towns would put on shows, but often individuals would arrange a production. • The church always reserved the right to approve or disapprove a script before it became a production.
Directors and Managers Appear • Productions needed someone to oversee the performances. So, theatre developed directors to handle the sometimes large numbers of actors, special effects, and money that would be put into productions. • Sometimes a committee of overseers was put together to stage productions. These overseers would have duties such as directing the erection of the stage, constructing seating for the audience, casting and rehearsing the actors, working with actors on refining roles, assigning people to take up money at the door, and addressing the audience at the beginning and end of the play This Medieval Theatre looks to be a prototype of the Globe Theatre that Shakespeare would have built in another 200 years.
Medieval Morality Plays • Morality play s were special cycle play s that wre about man's struggle between good and evil. One of the more influential morality plays was Romance of the Rose. This play had characters such as Slander, Danger, and Fair Welcome.
Citations • European Drama in the Middle Ages, March 3, 2011 • http://www.cwu.edu/~robinsos/ppages/resources/Theatre_History/Theahis_4.html • NOVA: Northern Virginia Community College: Introduction to Theater, On-line course March 3 2011 • http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/spd130et/medieval.htm