Medieval Theatre Conventions & Everyman

time period?
1 of 40
boundaries on stage?
fluid on/off stage boundaries, interactivity
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where is it performed?
on a fixed pageant wagon
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how is space and place created?
through the language of the play
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mansions stages used in medieval theatre to represent specific locations
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fixed, can't be moved, representative of something stable e.g. god in locus
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symbolic place that people can create different worlds, times, it is shifting and changing e.g. everyman's journey in the platea
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fixed image, morality plays often end like this to help resonate moral message
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Actors wore..?
(all were male) masks and makeup, needed to disguise their face as didn't want to be associated with death or negative characters
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material theatre?
employed props e.g. whip of penance, deaths weapon
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demonstrative acting
over the top acting, grabs attention needed as performed in an outdoor space
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Major theme: Didactic?
aims to teach, (is a morality play)
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asks you to think about the badness of vice and the goodness of virtue
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vice and virtue
characters are representative, no vice figures in everyman
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when was everyman performed and published?
performed: 1475-1500 approx, published: 1509, very little performance history, post reformation
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religious aspect?
not considering catholic dogma, looks at idea of living a good and virtuous moral life
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where and when performed?
primarily in north and midlands, each pageant was performed from beginning to end at several specific stations along a designated route through the city, perfumed into the reign of Elizabeth I
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who performed?
men and boys, professional trouped funded by royalty as well as amateur actors, 22 actors could play the role of christ in one cycle
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why were they performed?
celebration, fundraiser, moral instruction, express wealth and power, spectacle: emphasis on pyrotechnics, trap doors, puppets
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mystery vs morality
corpus Christi cycles présent the biblical history of the world through biblical processes but 'everyman' is an allegorical drama which moralises how a Christian should live and what he must do to save his soul from damnation
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need to secure grace through penance and never too late to repent
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why is everyman famous?
because he is never tempted to sin - it is his inability to be virtuous that leaves him unprepared
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death as an allegorical character
has a weapon, would be wearing a mask to remove identity and association
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concept of journey in the platea
platea is a transitional, liminal space, this is why once death exits, E thinks about the journey he must take
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god in the locus
we know that god remains somewhere within the space, in his "high celestial seat" - so locus becomes highly symbolic throughout the performance
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everyman and audience
fluid boundaries - spectators become participates and therefore are complicit in the action, means they have a moral duty
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everyman and friends
has 'fellowship', asks us to think about value of friendship, as he is betrayed by fellowship
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language of stage
language creates the stage space, endless language of comings and goings as everyman is left alone, audience begin to expect a pattern, means they must endure and suffer with everyman, endurance is part of the theatrical experience
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everyman and material life
E's material goods are restricted, shows that material life brings you down, why Goods abandons E
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death of everyman
just as with ancient greek theatre, more gruesome acts were concealed
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turn to god
E's use of latin, performance has become ritualised -state and status has changed
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arrival of angel
would come from locus
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arrival of doctor
doctor of theology, didactic threshold figure, play reminds us that death comes to all but what happens in afterlife depends on actions on Earth
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the necessity of democracy
democracy started in Ancient Greece, theatre was a democratic, if patriarchal, institution
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Greek playwrights
create a character that is slightly on the edge so there is always the threat that emotions could get out of control
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greek audiences
engaged in the action - active not passive
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performance of greek tragedy
highly theatricalised, excessive, body and voice key as there are masks
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unified, they umpire, narrate, model audiences emotion and represent greek society as a whole
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Extract: Deus Ex Machina
- Deus ex Machina – usually used to reveal Gods, but Medea uses it to leave – atypical to the convention – taken law into her own hands (and religion) by killing children but also acting like a god and leaving
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Medea's divine agency
has some sort of divine agency but doesn't use it
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Card 2


boundaries on stage?


fluid on/off stage boundaries, interactivity

Card 3


where is it performed?


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Card 4


how is space and place created?


Preview of the front of card 4

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