Medieval theatre  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Medieval theatre refers to the theatre of Europe between the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. and the beginning of the Renaissance in approximately the 15th century A.D. Medieval theatre covers all drama produced in Europe over that thousand year period and refers to a variety of genres, including liturgical drama, mystery plays, morality plays, farces and masques. Beginning with Hrosvitha of Gandersheim in the 10th century, Medieval drama was for the most part very religious and moral in its themes, staging and traditions. The most famous examples of medieval plays are the English cycle dramas and the morality play, Everyman.

Due to a lack of surviving records and texts, a low literacy rate of the general population, and the opposition of the clergy to some types of performance, there are few surviving sources on medieval drama of the early and high medieval periods. However, by the late period, drama and theatre began to become more secularized and a larger number of records survive documenting plays and performances.


Texts and Authors

Many texts survive from this era. Some of the most important ones are:

Most authors of medieval plays are anonymous. Important ones are:

  • Hrosvitha - the first female playwright, a nun from Gandersheim
  • The Wakefield Master - contributor to some of the plays of the Wakefield Cycle, including "The Second Shepherds' Play." His real name is not known.
  • John Bale - English churchman

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Medieval theatre" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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