Sonia Maura BARILLARI
Università di Genova
«Lo iudicio de la fine del mondo»: une dramaturgie illustrée
«Lo iudicio de la fine del mondo» est une représentation sacrée dont il ne reste qu’un exemplaire imprimé à Mondovì en 1510 et aujourd’hui conservé par la Bibliothèque vaticane (Rome, BV R. I. IV. 2168). On ne sait pas s’il reproduit un texte qui circulait déjà sous forme manuscrite ou s’il a été composé à ridosso de cette publication. Mais il est certain que le style ne laisse aucun doute sur son caractère authentiquement ‘théâtral’, c’est-à-dire sur le fait qu’il a été conçu et écrit en vue d’une mise en scène. Quoi qu’il en soit, les 84 xylographies qui accompagnent ce texte compensent en quelque sorte la pratique performative, mettant en scène les personnages appelés à prononcer les répliques comme pour reproduire la vivacité de la pratique performative. Ma communication vise à analyser la relation entre le texte et les images et à identifier leurs sources.
Université Charles, Prague
Charles IV dans une pièce de théâtre à double fond
La pièce de théâtre Des entkrist vasnacht (EV) est conservée dans la collection de quarante-neuf pièces de carnaval (Fastnachtspiele) composée à Nuremberg au XVe siècle (manuscrit cgm 714, partie II, no 53) et attribuée – au moins en partie – à Hans Rosenplüt (environ 1400-1460), forgeron et Meistersinger nurembergeois, l’un des prédécesseurs les plus importants de Hans Folz et Hans Sachs. L’EV s’intègre bien dans le corpus des pièces de / attribuées à Rosenplüt : elle présente une sorte d’alternative au monde réel, un « monde à l’envers » où l’Antéchrist séduit, un par un, les représentants de l’aristocratie et de la hiérarchie ecclésiastique.
Néanmoins, l’étendue extraordinaire de la pièce, ses caractéristiques linguistiques et certains éléments particuliers de son contenu suggèrent que Rosenplüt n’en est pas l’auteur unique, mais qu’il a adapté à la tradition du carnaval une pièce plus ancienne, rédigée en Suisse, probablement à Zurich, au milieu du XIVe siècle. A cause de ce changement de datation, depuis la fin du XIXe siècle, le personnage anonyme de l’empereur qui suit les conseils trompeurs de ses courtisans et cède à l’Antéchrist est associé à l’empereur et roi de Bohême Charles IV.
La présente contribution se propose de compléter les résultats de la recherche existante à propos de l’EV, surtout germanophone, par une perspective tchèque, à la lumière de travaux récents d’ordre essentiellement historique, notamment sur la situation économique de Charles IV, ses relations avec les Zurichois et les dignitaires de sa cour.
Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Mikołaj Rej and his „Kupiec“ and religious polemic on stage in Poland
„Kupiec“, probably the first Polish morality play was an extremely important for the Polish religious polemic during the first phase of Reformation in Poland. Although the intensify of religious debate in Poland could not be comparable with our neighbours: Germany and Czech, the very early decades of 16th Century were plenty of religious dialogues, novels and plays. I am attending to show works written by both sides: Catholic and Protestants.
Mary Maxine BROWNE
Purdue University Department of English
The Intelligence of Comedy: Erasmus’ Support of Terence in the Schools
The controversy over the moral value of the comedies of Terence was well-worn by the sixteenth century; Erasmus vigorously supported the inclusion of Terence’s plays in grade-school Latin curricula. In his Colloquia Erasmus elucidates his position, here read in conjunction with pertinent passages from Terence’s comedies.Moreover, in his De Copia he not only advises reading the plays, he also suggests working with dramatic gestures, likely learned from the plays’ illustrated manuscripts. This discussion offers perspective on the utilitas Erasmus saw in learning Terence’s bawdy, but agile moral intelligence compared with “Christian” literature’s sanitized, but often rigid moral attitudes.
Mark C. CHAMBERS
Disability in Performance in the Records of Early Drama: Impairment, Employment and Agency
The saints’ healing of an infirmed limb or organ is a recurrent theme in hagiographic literature—particularly from the earlier medieval period. Moreover, the loss of a limb or other appendage by disease, violence or accident could, of course, result in a potential performative event (something the Jew Jonathas learns to his horror in the infamous Croxton Play of the Sacrament). Drawing on the extensive evidence from both published and forthcoming Records of Early English Drama collections, this paper will discuss some of the instances where some form of musculoskeletal difference seems to have been part of the act: where – in particular – the scoliotic or kyphotic performer or player whose amelia or amputation serves some manner of performative function. Drawing on recent premodern disability theory, it will focus analysis of those “real,” as opposed to the literary examples of disabled bodies whose ostensive impairment appears to have facilitated a degree of performative agency in the premodern record.
Kansas State University
Jacques Copeau’s Medievalism among the isms of the Twentieth Century
The renowned stage director Jacques Copeau (1879‒1949) was a complicated and even contradictory figure, both in his personal life and in his work. He was a well-established man of the theater when he converted to Catholicism in 1929. As the political crises of the twentieth century unfolded, Copeau was called upon to navigate among the different isms that marked every aspect of the culture of his day. This paper will address several key moments of Copeau’s artistic and political trajectory, including his participation at the Volta conference (Rome, 1933); his later pamphlet Le Théâtre Populaire (1941); and his productions the 1930s and 1940s, given under the auspices of the Italian Fascist Party and the Nazi Occupation of France. Copeau was well aware that his productions could be misconstrued as being “for the masses” and not “of the masses,” a nuance that allowed him to please his sponsors while keeping a clear conscience. This paper will contextualize Copeau’s work alongside similar, contemporary trends in Europe.
John Jay College, CUNY
Staging Enmity: Performance Strategies in Wartime
Entitled „Staging Enmity: Performance Strategies in Wartime“, this paper centers on the cultural and social uses of performance in the context of war. I examine a late medieval French-language manuscript that preserves a wide variety of performance texts dating to the early fourteenth century. These performances represent and record the clashing perspectives of the factions in a lengthy regional war that entangled Luxembourg, Bar, the Lorraine, the archbishopric of Trier, and the city of Metz. I am particularly interested in moments when multiple performance strategies can be seen to overlap and interconnect, creating a web of conflicting narratives.
University of Giessen, German Department
Catechism and Miracles as Arguments in Religious Debate. Hanns Wagner’s Play of St Ursus (1581)
Hanns Wagner’s „Sant Vrsen spil“ is the second part of a double play about the martyrs of the Thebaic Legion, staged in Solothurn in 1581, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation. The play about the local saints Ursus and Victor clearly differs both from the play of the first day (St Maurice) and from the common source of the two plays, an anonymous play of St Ursus from 1539. It clearly addresses a mixed Catholic and Protestant audience, using dramatic elements typical for Protestant drama of the time (sermons, explanations of the catechism, frequent references to St Paul, critique against idolatry), and typical Catholic elements (references to the pope, miracles, and especially post-mortal miracles). I will discuss how the miracles could be staged effectively and how they help to persuasively re-interpret the seemingly „common Protestant“ elements of the play, thus making it a distinctively non-polemical Counter-Reformation play.
Université de Picardie Jules Verne, France
Jouer la Passion à Mons, un phénomène socio-culturel? Du Livre de Conduite et Compte des Dépenses de la Passion (Gustave Cohen, 1925) à la Ducasse de Mons (patrimoine mondial de l’humanité depuis 2005)
Lorsqu’il rend compte de la « grande découverte » que représente, en 1913, la mise au jour du Livre de Conduite de la Passion de Mons et du Registre des comptes de la ville qui l’accompagne, Gustave Cohen ne manque pas de rendre un vibrant hommage à la communauté urbaine à l’origine de l’organisation de ce mystère. C’est le point de départ d’un mythe : celui du mystère comme fiction urbaine, portée à l’existence par le souffle d’une communauté toute entière — fiction à laquelle de nombreuses troupes de théâtre amateurs, comme les Théophiliens créés par Cohen en 1933, donneront un large écho.
Or, le texte mis en scène par les Montois en 1501 est un montage, la Passion Cyclique, issue de deux textes nés dans d’autres villes : le Mystère de la Passion, composé par Gréban à Paris en 1452 ; et le Mystère de la Passion composé par Jehan Michel à Angers en 1486. La Passion Cyclique avait été montée en 1500 à Amiens, ainsi que dans de nombreuses villes de l’espace franco-bourguignon (dont Abbeville et Valenciennes), sous une forme chaque fois remaniée.
En remontant du XXe siècle au Moyen Age, et dans une perspective à la fois historiographique et historique, on s’interrogera donc sur le lien effectif du mystère de la Passion comme genre à aux villes qui l’ont successivement représenté, et sur la façon dont ce lien se manifeste au sein de la mimesis comme dans le decorum qui entoure chaque représentation.
On cherchera à analyser la tension entre une volonté de représentation du réel qui caractérise le mystère, genre théâtral mimétique, et qui le distingue de genres allégoriques comme la sottie ou la Moralité, et son dessein global : celui d’une spiritualité chrétienne universelle, qui dépasse a priori la représentation de classes sociales dans leur environnement urbain. Dans cette tension, quelle est la part d’une éventuelle conscience urbaine, et de la participation à une communauté qui que les divers acteurs des mystères feraient valoir, que ce soit dans le texte remanié, dans la mise en scène ou dans le jeu ?
Le but de la représentation de la Passion de Mons en 1501 est-il de les faire exister en tant que personnages de fiction, ou de conforter le « capital symbolique » (Bourdieu, Esquisse d’une théorie de la pratique, Genève, Droz, 1972, p. 228 et suiv.) de cette municipalité ? Quels sont ses liens éventuels avec des pratiques locales, politiques ou dévotionnelles — voir Chiara Frugoni, A distant city : images of urban experience in the medieval world, Princeton, 1991 ? On analysera ainsi le mystère de la Passion de 1501 comme un jalon dans l’histoire des représentations sacrées de la ville de Mons (Miracle de Sainte Waudru, Vie de Saint Georges, jusqu’à la Ducasse, patrimoine mondial de l’humanité depuis 2005).
University of Iowa
Indulgenced Affect: Achieving Grace through Spectatorship
Audience reception is arguably the most under-researched aspect of medieval religious theater. This is unsurprising. The source materials for medieval drama—not just the “scripts” of liturgy and vernacular plays, but also records of theatrical practice and patronage (REED)—are skewed towards issues of production and performance. We lack an authentically medieval framework for understanding audience behavior and its spiritual benefits.
Recent research on German medieval theater, however, has pointed to a source of grace, only later maligned, that offered spectators partial or plenary salvation at the drop of a tear or the recitation of a prayer: the indulgence. My presentation will explore how the indulgence functioned as an ‚opus operantis,‘ providing spectators spiritual autonomy. In York, Zerbst, Lucerne, Künzelsau, and elsewhere, the indulgence allowed audience members access to grace outside of the mass.
La Chanson de Roland, de la mise en voix à la mise en scène
Tenue dans sa version d’Oxford comme un des premiers textes français et le modèle même de la chanson de geste, la chanson de Roland a suscité l’intérêt de plusieurs metteurs en scène moderne. Vouloir la remettre „en voix“ et en scène offre non seulement de grandes difficultés mais renoue en même temps avec la définition de la théâtralité médiévale de Zumthor, pour qui tout texte se donnait en performance à travers la voix/le corps du jongleur. Il s’agira de mesure ces „performances“ l’ancienne et l’actuelle à travers les tentatives de Guenon (1978), Jaques-Wajman (2005) et Jean Lambert Wild (2021). On verra les questions de langue, de décor, costumes, mises en espace qui se posent aux modernes pour évaluer le sens de ces entreprises théâtrales.
Dits des trois morts et trois vifs: du dit à la performance
Les Dits des trois morts et trois vifs comptent parmi les motifs littéraire et artistique les plus prolifiques de la France médiévale : ils mettent en scène la rencontre entre deux mondes, où dialoguent souvent leurs représentants. Ces dialogues n’en feraient pas pour autant des jeux. Bien que le dit soit dit, proféré et performé, il relie intimement l’actualisation orale à sa textualité écrite.
Dans ce projet, j’explorerai les divers contextes manuscrits des Dits des trois morts et trois vifs : l’examen et l’analyse de la présentation de chaque dit (mise en page et paratexte) et de la position de chaque version dans son espace manuscrit unique (intertextualité immédiate) me permettra de réfléchir sur le rapport entre dit et performance (verbes introducteurs, rubriques, images…) et d’identifier des suggestions médiévales à la performance de ce motif.
The revival of Zurich’s banned patron saint on the Catholic stage
The martyrs Felix and Regula, members of the Theban legion, were the patron saints of Zurich. After the successful implementation of the Zwinglian Reformation, the cult of saints was abolished. In 1651 Felix had its revival in the core area of the Catholics. During the solemnities of the translation of relics to the chapel of Hergiswald, a small place of worship on the slopes of Mount Pilate, a play about the martyrdom of Saint Felix and the vita of a local hermit was staged by devout Lucerne citizens. My paper focuses on the play text and the confessional and political context of the performance.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Afterlife of a Mystère: The Temptation of Saint Anthony as a Puppet Show
In the second half of the eighteenth century, adaptations of medieval mystery plays became a major part of the French marionette repertoire “On y voit invariablement les Mystères de la Passion, la Nativité et, un peu plus tard, la Tentation de saint Antoine, qui est peut-être le seul qui soit arrivé jusqu’à nous, un peu modernisé il est vrai, mais bien amusant” (Ernest Maindron, Marionnettes et guignols, 1900). My paper will focus on the Temptation of Saint Anthony. Puppet show variations on this theme varied from mild pornography to good-humored comedy suitable for children. The best were skillfully constructed works of theatrical art.
Ludwig Maxmilians Universität München
Rooms to act and rooms to write
In her dramas, Hrotsvit of Gandersheim stages the conversion (conversio) and martyrdom (passio) of a young man and ‒ more often ‒ women. Even though these dramas were presumably never staged, but written for reading, rooms and places are very important for her plays. As I will argue, Hrotsvit uses the description and functions of rooms to illustrate the possible ways of ‚conversio‘ and ‚passio‘ and to show, how literary models of ancient Latin literature fail in a Christianised world.
Institute of Czech Literature, Czech Academy of Sciences
Visual Performance and Verbal Efficacy in Three Old Czech Narratives
The paper focuses on a series of three Old Czech chivalric stories preserved in a 15th century manuscript (Prague, National Library, XI B 4), named after their respective protagonists: Štilfrýd, Bruncvík and Jovian. All three heroes conceal (voluntarily or not) their royal identity. I will use the final story about an emperor robbed of his clothes and identity as a key to the whole series and ask how the visible performance of power constitutes a basis for the efficacy of human speech, aiming at refining the notion of performativity in the context of medieval literature of the Czech lands.
University of Toronto
English Biblical Drama That Survived The Reformation
From the research of Records of Early English Drama, we know that in the late Middle Ages biblical drama was performed all over England. It was ruthlessly suppressed by Reformation politics. But four sequences survive – the cycles from York and Chester and the two compilations, ‘Towneley’ and ‘N-Town’. My paper will take each sequence and discuss how each one was treated differently some by those seeking suppression, others by remaining Catholics and all, in the end, by antiquarians, who, after the Civil War, cherished them, not for their contents, but for their antiquity.
University of Glasgow
George Buchanan and the Performativity of Reformation Polemics
The Scot, George Buchanan (1506‒82), sometime tutor to Montaigne, humanist fugitive, prisoner to the Portuguese Inquisition, royal advisor in France and Scotland, was possibly the most eloquent neo-latinist of his age. Influenced by French theatre he wrote four plays for schoolboys while teaching in Bordeaux in 1539-42, two translations from the Greek, Medea and Alcestis, and two original compositions, Jephthes and Baptistes. Baptistes, which deals in the subject of kingly tyranny was not published until 1577, just before Buchanan’s most celebrated later work on the same subject, De Jure Regni apud Scotos, was written in Scotland in 1579 as a dialogue with the Roman Catholic partisan for Mary Queen of Scots, Thomas Maitland. This paper will look at these two texts to assess how Buchanan used the performative strategies of a sometime theatrical, beyond schools’ dialectic, to express his own development from free-thinking Humanist into his own brand of convinced Calvinist.
Sharon Diane KING
Associate, UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Of Faith, Hope, and Rivalry: The Pilgrimage Play of Los Angeles
In 1916, paint heiress Christine Wetherill Stevenson, a transplant to Los Angeles from Pittsburgh, set about her life mission: to create a theatre and produce her own spiritually-focused plays. Her first staging, The Light of Asia, proving a success, she and other theatre patrons purchased land (now the Hollywood Bowl) towards that purpose. But when her colleagues strayed from her spiritual inclinations, she bought a property directly across the Cahuenga Pass to create the Pilgrimage Play, representing the life of Christ from inception to resurrection. This paper will discuss this reimagined Passion play, both a medievalist re-creation and an eminently Hollywood phenomenon.
Universitat de les Illes Balears
The Spiritual Dimension of the Majorcan Play Texts (Ms. 1139, Biblioteca de Catalunya)
In our analysis of the spiritual dimension of the Majorcan play manuscript (Ms. 1139, Catalan National Library, Barcelona) we focus our attention on the image of God that these texts convey and on the way in which these plays try to encourage in the audience the disposition and the longing to be transformed by participating in the religious experience imparted by the church. We show how, as a whole, the late medieval plays, objects of our study, appear conceived as tools destined to increase the spiritual progress of the members of the community that create and witness throughout the liturgical year the scenic representation of the main subjects of the history of the Salvation.
Palacký University in Olomouc / Czech Academy od Sciences
“Reality Effect” in Religious Performances of the Passion
In this paper, I demonstrate how phenomenology and cognitive theory can be of use in shedding light on some pressing issues in the research of high and late medieval Passion devotion. Using the concept of visceral seeing, kinesthetic empathy, and embodied schema, I explore the potential of the theory of embodied cognition to explain the cognitive and perceptual mechanisms behind a certain form of mimetic realism observed in a number of Passion representations (including texts, images, and performances). My argument would be that, beyond mere strife for representational versimilitude, the religious message communicated by these objects and events was inextricably grounded in their distinct materiality and in a particular mode of kinesthetic response they triggered in the target audiences (readers, viewers, listeners). The argument will be demonstrated on the example of Marian Lament, animated sculptures of Christ in suffering, a Bohemian representative of Passion Play, and various medial representations of the arma Christi.
University Western Ontario
Writing a Mystery Play with Protestants in 1548
Nicolas Loupvent writes the Mystère de saint Etienne Pape in 1548 for the consecration of the newly renovated parish church of Saint-Etienne in the town of St-Mihiel (Lorraine). Both Busselot (Meneur de jeu) and Ligier Richer (Maître des secrets) had to later leave St-Mihiel to freely professe their protestant faith. The subject matter of the play is enough to startle the reader. After all, the town is staging the story of a martyr pope in a period when the papacy is under intense scrutiny. We will investigate the dossier of one of the „dernier grand mystère“ in order to further our understanding the legacy of a medieval religious theatre way into the Renaissance.
Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona
From funeral procession to macabre dance
We consider that the late medieval dance of death was based on secular practices that were well established in the popular tradition to accompany the dead in their journey to the afterlife. It would therefore not be an “edifying fiction”, as J.C. Schmitt put it, at least with regard to the ceremonial and the dance practices related to the farewell of the dead. When dealing with the characteristic choreographic form of the dance of death, it is necessary to think of very common figures in the history of dance: the circle and the row. The quintessential medieval dance, the “carola”, combined them both, with abundant iconographic samples throughout Europe. Thus, the “carola” would have functioned as the matrix form of the late medieval dances of death, the last echo of which seems to be hinted at in a dance that has survived for centuries in popular practice: the “contrapàs”. This is corroborated by its solemnity and circumspection.
Did the End of the Middle Ages Also Spell Finis for Croatian Passion Plays?
The Renaissance, the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation were far-reaching processes that shook Europe to its core. Were the Croatian passion plays collateral victims of such seismic changes? Were they eventually ousted from public places by a decree, especially in the aftermath of the bans issued by the Council of Trent (1545‒1563)?
Were the dramatic representations of the suffering Christ and his grief-stricken mother at the foot of the cross suppressed by the efforts made by the Catholic Church hierarchy to clampdown not only on clerical orders, but also on lay confraternities, perceiving their piety as somewhat reform-like? Likewise, the Venetian authorities in Dalmatia had no sympathy for the activities of confraternities led by Glagolitic priests, constantly trying to prohibit the use of the Croatian language within those associations.
Or was perhaps their descent from the stage marked by a more natural (and inevitable) course of events, having fallen out of favour with the audience due to the conflict between the Church authorities and the popular approach to performances, the professionalisation of acting and the loss of social cohesion, as well as the change of aesthetic taste in the second half of the 16th century, and the burgeoning of the Renaissance comedy? The records hold the key to this quest.
Centre for Classical Studies at the Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences
The Archeology of Byzantine Liturgical Performativity: The Service of Washing of the Feet on Patmos Island
Byzantine manifestations of collective piety took a restrained attitude toward physical and sensory expressions of emotion. The Byzantine liturgy was based on a theological basis derived primarily from (neo)Platonism and its distrust of sensory perception and excessive emotions, which it saw as a threat to the individual and the community. Eastern Christianity also receives from Plato their restraint towards the mimetic depiction of sacred themes, which for the Byzantines always carried the danger of idolatry. However, because the purpose of Christian worship is to evoke the true presence of God in the congregation, the Eastern Christian liturgy has applied many means of influencing the senses and emotions of the congregation and diverse methods of how to create space-time of hierotopy without using representational mimesis. The mimetic mode of representation is deliberately suppressed in the Byzantine rite using manifold means (in the acoustics, in the visual plan etc.)
In my paper, I will present the specific performative features of the Service of Washing of the Feet as it is performed today on the island of Patmos. The ceremony itself was recorded in a post-Byzantine manuscript, probably from the 17th-18th century. Its performance there has been documented since the foundation of the monastery of St. John the Theologian in the 11th century. It can therefore be assumed that it was recorded only after a certain time when its form was more or less fixed. At the same time, for the Eastern Church, the liturgy develops only at a very slow evolutional pace within theological rules and has never been subjected to radical reforms. This means that once established liturgical forms have survived for centuries without significant changes.
The distinctive traits of orthodox liturgical performativity that we can observe in the whole of Byzantine rite are exceptionally developed in this specific and perhaps most spectacular service still celebrated, while these performative aspects can be discerned in other Byzantine material (textual and pictorial), too. The service can therefore function as a good „archaeological“ example for studying Byzantine performativity.
TRAME, Université de Picardie Jules Verne
Modèle de sainteté où exemple d’indépendance féminine : qu’est-ce que les mystères à saintes nous disent aujourd’hui?
La martyre dans le théâtre européen (XIVe-XVIe siècles) est une héroïne au statu paradoxal. Objet de violence verbale et physique, victime de la brutalité des bourreaux, la sainte est regardée par ses ennemies comme un corps, destiné à subir un crescendo d’horreurs qui ne se termine qu’avec sa passion. Corps souffrant, sexualisé : c’est en ces termes que la critique a souvent lu ce personnage, entre hagiographie, représentation théâtrale et visuelle. Pourtant, des textes dramatiques ressort l’attitude rebelle de l’esprit d’une héroïne qui n’est pas représentée par hasard comme sainte et sorcière à la fois : la performance d’un personnage doué d’une « volonté implacable », qui poursuit consciemment son propre martyre et le désir, devient alors un exemple de cruauté artaudienne (au sens philosophique), outre qu’un modèle de perfection chrétienne. C’est dans la contradiction entre la sereine immobilité de l’Apolline de Fouquet, cohérente avec l’hagiographie, et la réactivité souffrante du personnage théâtral et incarné que réside le défi à redonner une nouvelle vie à ces drames sur les scènes d’aujourd’hui.
Centre for Medieval Studies, Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences
Silk in the mud and a dancing king. The Czech medieval Apollonius of Tyre
Premodern novels often accentuate the agency of the text or that of its recipients. This is also true of Apollonius of Tyre, whose popularity has been explained by the use of seemingly timeless archetypes. However, typical of the late medieval vernacular Czech prose Apollonius is rather the emphasis on the performative modes of conveying instruction – words are used to push characters and readers to step out of the text and to master their own bodies. In this context, it is useful to examine the functioning public exemplary acts. These were modified from the Latin models to assure the narrative space for emotional reactions and their evaluations. In this way, theater turns into dance, narration is replaced by discipline. The recontextualization of Apollonius in the Christian environment reorientates the story to the problem of interpretive work, but the success of the protagonists is mainly linked to control of their physical performance. I will try to examine how the narrative establishes itself as an attempt to recast an immoral text; its aim would be to perform justice by its own means in the long-term literary tradition.
University of Sheffield
On the Absence of Medieval English Farces
Secular plays, such as romance plays and farces, are conspicuously absent in the otherwise quite diverse body of surviving medieval English play texts. In this paper I want especially to explore the absence of farces. The non-existence of Middle English farces (apart from 2 possible contenders) is odd, particularly when one looks at the situation across the Channel, as the farce was a very popular genre in France and the Low Countries and many play texts survive. The historical evidence does not make it clear whether or not there were farces in medieval England. I would therefore like to have a quick look at what the two main possibilities (there were no farces; there were farces but they have not survived) might tell us about the English dramatic tradition, and about the genre of the farce – or perhaps about modern perceptions of the genre. In doing so, I will only look at hypotheses and possibilities; in the end, the absence of surviving farces from medieval England will remain a mystery.
Institute of Czech Literature, Czech Academy of Sciences
Staging the Sensory in the Old Czech Vévoda Arnošt
Jan K. Hon argued convincingly that in the earliest Old Czech adaptations of Middle High German verse romances and epics, the translators conceptualized the narrations into individual scenes, enclosed narrative units, which they subsequently reworked to make the narration more dramatic and immediate for the reader. I argue that in the early-14th-century Vévoda Arnošt , the author achieves this by moving from telling towards showing. The protagonists‘ acts which originally were implied are now staged as physical action manifest in the fictional world and observed and experienced by other characters, with a special focus on audiovisual and tactile experience. The text thus frequently activates the recipient and prompts them to partake in a performance in which the characters are involved.
The Center for Classical Studies at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences
St. Vitus Passion Play: The Oldest Fragment of a Passion Play from Bohemia in the context of Medieval Drama of Central Europe
The St. Vitus Passion Play (Svatovítská pašijová hra) is a unique, lesser-known fragment of the only extant Passion play from medieval Bohemia, dating from the end of the 14th century (further development of Latin Church and religious vernacular drama was disrupted by the pre-protestant movement of the Hussites and their rejection of both secular and religious theatre, church ceremonies and feasts). Despite its short length (it contains only 136 vernacular verses and 13 Latin rubrics), the text of the fragment reveals a unique framework of scenes and remarkable, humorous characters: as well as the soldiers and devils there also appears the fictional figure of Gocin, a comical servant to the blind Longinus, whose speeches are reminiscent of Mercator’s servant Rubin in the old Czech play The Ointment Seller (Mastičkář in Czech). The paper will examine the grotesque comedy and buffoonery of the characters, which is interwoven with the serious story of Christ’s passion and crucifixion and contrasts with the sorrowful and solemn atmosphere of Good Friday (on which day the play would have been performed), as well as the potential analogies and associations of the Bohemian Passion Play with other medieval dramas of Central Europe: not only the Easter Drama of Bohemia, but also the Passion Plays from Vienna, Wels and other regions.
Martin W. WALSH
University of Michigan
Ribauds and Revenants: Playing with Fraud, Trickery, Death and Resurrection in the French St. Martin Plays
Comparison of two unusual passages from 15th‒cent. saints plays, the Mystere de saint Martin by Andrieu de la Vigne (1496) and, from earlier in the century, Le mystere de la vie de mon. sainct Martin from Touraine. Both deal with fraud, trickery and the saint’s power to bring back the dead. Both are self contained episodes; appear to be largely their playwright’s inventions; and both have more than a hint of comicality. The Touraine excerpt involves two ribauds who attempt to scam St. Martin, one to play dead and the other solicit alms for a proper burial. But the „death“ becomes actual with the trickster’s soul in peril. In the La Vigne passage a usurer attempts to foreclose on a widow whose late husband supposedly forfeited the family house and vineyard. With no supporting documents, the widow seeks the help of St. Martin who raises up her dead spouse to testify in court. These stage examples of the „returning dead“ will be analyzed citing the work of Schmidt, Lecouteux and Caciola particularly, and their folkloric analogues explored with reference to other theatrical revenants in medieval drama (ex. the Chester Antichrist).
University of Lausanne
Theatrical and Performative Practices in Lausanne (1450‒1550)
In the 15th century, Lausanne was a diocesan city under the rule of the imperial duchy of Savoy. In 1536, the Vaud region is conquered by Bern, becomes a part of the Swiss Confederation and adopts Reformation. These profound political and religious transformations had an impact on local theater practices. A medieval tradition of mystery plays representing the life of saints, or Nativity and Passion of Christ, organized by religious and civil authorities is abandoned and, quite unexpectedly, Lausanne becomes a place where a major theatrical innovation occurs: a first French tragedy, suspended between the universe of mystery plays and humanist theater, is composed by Theodore Beza for students of the Academy of Lausanne (1550). Focusing on a panorama of theatrical and performative practices in Lausanne between 1450 and 1550 in their socio-cultural context, this paper will unravel partial results of a survey aimed at creating an online database of theatrical activities in Romandy in 15th‒16th centuries.
University of Warsaw, Poland
Adapting Suffering and Redemption in Carol Ann Duffy’s ‚Everyman‘
Carol Ann Duffy’s 2015 adaptation of the late medieval morality play ‚Everyman‘, while transferring the themes from the medieval original, also transfers the main protagonist’s suffering and penitence which subsequently lead to absolution and redemption. However, Duffy’s adaptation, which is aimed at the 21st-century viewer, at the same time amplifies, transposes and modernizes the original representation of suffering and penance as redeeming forces. The aim of this paper is to present the changes and modifications present in the adaptation to the medieval notion of salvation, grace and suffering, and how it was transposed for the postmodern concepts of personal redemption.