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Medieval Drama

The Medieval era picks up during the 600s when much of Europe was in a constantly fluctuating political world. The only stability many people had was the Church, which explains the themes found during this era. Passion plays focused on the life of Jesus Christ, while morality plays ended with a strong message. The point of these productions was for the viewers to leave with a lesson at the end of the performance.

Medieval dramas were often controlled by guilds. Individual cities had their own guild in place to regulate the performances. The guild often took the script to the Church leaders who either gave their permission to hold the play or demanded changes to the play. In some cases the Church wouldn't allow a performance to go off because they disagreed with the script.

In the early days there were two types of stages for drama performances. Mansions were small areas similar to set pieces. Every time a location changed within the play, the actors moved to a different mansion. There was also something known as a platea, which was a platform. At times, especially in plays that were more basic, the actors worked on the platea without any props.

Texts

Performance and Set Design

  • Everyman : examines the design and production of plays done in this era.

  • Medieval Writing : discusses the ways in which the plays were designed and played.

Subject Matter

Props and Makeup

Costumes

Depictions from this Period

Other

Medieval drama was often quite simple, especially in comparison to modern day plays and performances. Many of the performances took place outside where the actors worked with minimal props and clothing they had on hand. It wasn't until later years that the performances became more elaborate and complex.