digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:

Agriculture

Applied sciences

Arts

Belief

Business

Chronology

Culture

Education

Environment

Geography

Health

History

Humanities

Language

Law

Life

Mathematics

Nature

People

Politics

Science

Society

Technology

For the graphic novella, see The Mystery Play.
Depiction of a performance of the Mystery Play of Saint Clement in Metz during the Middle Ages.

Mystery plays (from the Latin "misterium" meaning "occupation") and miracle plays (They are distinguished as two different forms [1] although the terms are often used interchangeably) are among the earliest formally developed plays in medieval Europe. Medieval mystery plays focused on the representation of Bible stories in churches as tableaux with accompanying antiphonal song. They told of subjects such as the Creation, Adam and Eve, the murder of Abel, and the last judgment.[2] Oftentimes they were performed together in cycles which could last for days [3] The name derives from mystery used in its sense of miracle,[4] but an occasionally quoted derivation is from ministerium, meaning craft, and so the 'mysteries' or plays performed by the craft guilds.[5]

Origins[edit]

Mystery play, Flanders, 15th century

As early as the fifth century living tableaux were introduced into sacred services.[6] The plays originated as simple tropes, verbal embellishments of liturgical texts, and slowly became more elaborate. At an early period chants from the service of the day were added to the prose dialogue. As these liturgical dramas increased in popularity, vernacular forms emerged, as travelling companies of actors and theatrical productions organized by local communities became more common in the later Middle Ages.

The Quem Quaeritis? is the best known early form of the dramas, a dramatised liturgical dialogue between the angel at the tomb of Christ and the women who are seeking his body.[6] These primitive forms were later elaborated with dialogue and dramatic action. Eventually the dramas moved from church to the exterior - the churchyard and the public marketplace. These early performances were given in Latin, and were preceded by a vernacular prologue spoken by a herald who gave a synopsis of the events. The writers and directors of the earliest plays, were probably monks. Religious drama flourished from about the ninth century to the sixteenth.

In 1210, suspicious of the growing popularity of miracle plays, Pope Innocent III issued a papal edict forbidding clergy from acting on a public stage. This had the effect of transferring the organization of the dramas to town guilds, after which several changes followed. Vernacular texts replaced Latin, and non-Biblical passages were added along with comic scenes, for example in the Secunda Pastorum of the Wakefield Cycle. Acting and characterization became more elaborate.

These vernacular religious performances were, in some of the larger cities in England such as York, performed and produced by guilds, with each guild taking responsibility for a particular piece of scriptural history. From the guild control originated the term mystery play or mysteries, from the Latin ministerium meaning "occupation" (i.e. that of the guilds). The genre was again banned, following the Reformation and the establishment of the Church of England in 1534.

The mystery play developed, in some places, into a series of plays dealing with all the major events in the Christian calendar, from the Creation to the Day of Judgment. By the end of the 15th century, the practice of acting these plays in cycles on festival days was established in several parts of Europe. Sometimes, each play was performed on a decorated pageant cart that moved about the city to allow different crowds to watch each play as well as provided actors with a dressing room as well as a stage [7] The entire cycle could take up to twenty hours to perform and could be spread over a number of days. Taken as a whole, these are referred to as Corpus Christi cycles. These cycles were often performed during the Feast of Corpus Christi and their overall design drew attention to Christ's life and his redemption for all of mankind.[8]

The plays were performed by a combination of professionals and amateurs and were written in highly elaborate stanza forms; they were often marked by the extravagance of the sets and 'special effects', but could also be stark and intimate. The variety of theatrical and poetic styles, even in a single cycle of plays, could be remarkable.

Adam and Eve are expelled from paradise in a performance by the Players of St Peter

There are four complete or nearly complete extant English biblical collections of plays;[9] although these collections are sometimes referred to as "cycles," it is now believed that this term may attribute to these collections more coherence than they in fact possess. The most complete is the York cycle of forty-eight pageants; there are also the Towneley plays of thirty-two pageants, once thought to have been a true 'cycle' of plays acted at Wakefield; the Ludus Coventriae (also called the N Town plays or Hegge cycle), now generally agreed to be a redacted compilation of at least three older, unrelated plays, and the Chester cycle of twenty-four pageants, now generally agreed to be an Elizabethan reconstruction of older medieval traditions. Also extant are two pageants from a New Testament cycle acted at Coventry and one pageant each from Norwich and Newcastle upon Tyne. Additionally, a fifteenth-century play of the life of Mary Magdalene, The Brome Abraham and Isaac and a sixteenth-century play of the Conversion of Saint Paul exist, all hailing from East Anglia. Besides the Middle English drama, there are three surviving plays in Cornish known as the Ordinalia, and several cyclical plays survive from continental Europe.

These biblical plays differ widely in content. Most contain episodes such as the Fall of Lucifer, the Creation and Fall of Man, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, Abraham and Isaac, the Nativity, the Raising of Lazarus, the Passion, and the Resurrection. Other pageants included the story of Moses, the Procession of the Prophets, Christ's Baptism, the Temptation in the Wilderness, and the Assumption and Coronation of the Virgin. In given cycles, the plays came to be sponsored by the newly emerging Medieval craft guilds. The York mercers, for example, sponsored the Doomsday pageant. Other guilds presented scenes appropriate to their trade: the building of the Ark from the carpenters' guild; the five loaves and fishes miracle from the bakers; and the visit of the Magi, with their offerings of gold, frankincense and myrrh, from the goldsmiths.[10][11] The guild associations are not, however, to be understood as the method of production for all towns. While the Chester pageants are associated with guilds, there is no indication that the N-Town plays are either associated with guilds or performed on pageant wagons. Perhaps the most famous of the mystery plays, at least to modern readers and audiences, are those of Wakefield. Unfortunately, we cannot know whether the plays of the Towneley manuscript are actually the plays performed at Wakefield but a reference in the Second Shepherds' Play to Horbery Shrogys ([1] line 454) is strongly suggestive. In "The London Burial Grounds" by Mrs Basil Holmes (1897), the author claims that the Holy Priory Church, next to St Katherine Cree on Leadenhall Street, London was the location of miracle plays from the tenth to the sixteenth century. Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London (c 1500 - 1569) stopped this in 1542.[12]

The most famous plays of the Towneley collection are attributed to the Wakefield Master, an anonymous playwright who wrote in the fifteenth century. The epithet "Wakefield Master" was first applied to this individual by the literary historian Gayley. The Wakefield Master gets his name from the geographic location where he lived, the market-town of Wakefield in Yorkshire. He may have been a highly educated cleric there, or possibly a friar from a nearby monastery at Woodkirk, four miles north of Wakefield. It was once thought that this anonymous author wrote a series of 32 plays (each averaging about 384 lines) called the Towneley Cycle. The Master's contributions to this collection are still much debated, and some scholars believe he may have written fewer than ten of them. These works appear in a single manuscript, currently found in the Huntington Library of California. It shows signs of Protestant editing — references to the Pope and the sacraments are crossed out, for instance. Likewise, twelve manuscript leaves were ripped out between the two final plays because of Catholic references. This evidence strongly suggests the play was still being read and performed as late as 1520, perhaps as late in Renaissance as the final years of King Henry VIII's reign.

The best known pageant in the Towneley manuscript is The Second Shepherds' Pageant, a burlesque of the Nativity featuring Mak the sheep stealer and his wife Gill, which more or less explicitly compares a stolen lamb to the Saviour of mankind. The Harrowing of Hell, derived from the apocryphal Acts of Pilate, was a popular part of the York and Wakefield cycles.

The dramas of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods were developed out of mystery plays.

Spanish mystery plays[edit]

The oldest liturgical drama (12th century) written already in old Spanish language was a codex found in the library of the Toledo Cathedral. The Auto de los Reyes Magos belongs to the Christmas cycle. It is a play about the Biblical Magi, three wise men from the East who followed a star and visited the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.[13] It is believed to have been based on an earlier liturgical Latin play written in France.[14]

The Misteri d'Elx (in English, the Elx Mystery Play or Mystery Play of Elx) is a liturgical drama dating from the Middle Ages, which is enacted and celebrated in the Basilica de Santa María in the city of Elx on 14 and 15 August of each year. In 2001, UNESCO declared it one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It commemorates the Assumption of Mary.

Miracle play[edit]

Miracle plays, or Saint's plays, are now distinguished from mystery plays as they specifically re-enacted miraculous interventions by the saints, particularly St. Nicholas or St. Mary, into the lives of ordinary people, rather than biblical events;[15] however both of these terms are more commonly used by modern scholars than they were by medieval people, who used a wide variety of terminology to refer to their dramatic performances. Robert Chambers, writing in 19th century notes that "especially in England, miracle [came] to stand for religious play in general".[16]

Miracle plays were written in the Cornish language and performed in plain-an-gwarrys. To capture the attention of the audience, "the plays were often noisy, bawdy and entertaining".[17]

Modern revivals[edit]

The Mystery Plays were revived in both York and Chester in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain. The Mysteries was a re-working of the Wakefield Cycle and others produced at the National Theatre in 1977. The Lichfield Mysteries were revived in 1994. More recently, the N-Town cycle of touring plays have been revived as the Lincoln mystery plays. In 2001, an African version of the Chester plays was performed in London, under the direction of Mark Dornford-May and musical direction of Charles Hazlewood.

In 2004, two mystery plays—one focusing on the Creation and the other on the Passion—were performed at Canterbury Cathedral, with actor Edward Woodward in the role of God. The large cast also included Daniel MacPherson, Thomas James Longley and Joseph McManners. The performances commissioned a further supporting cast of over 100 local people and were produced by Kevin Wood.

In 2013, four mystery plays were performed at the Loewe Theatre at Hunter College as part of their fall season. Plays performed were The Creation, Noah and the Flood, Abraham and Isaac, and The Second Shepherd's Play. Original music was added to this compilation, written by musical director Brian Hurley.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 'Properly speaking, Mysteries deal with Gospel events only. Miracle Plays, on the other hand, are concerned with incidents derived from the legends of the saints of the Church.' Ward, Augustus William (1875). History of English dramatic literature. London, England: Macmillan. 
  2. ^ "Vernacular Drama | Medieval Drama." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 27 May 2013. Web. 7 February 2015.
  3. ^ [ https://www.theatrefolk.com/spotlights/72/download ]
  4. ^ "mystery, n1 9". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. December 2009. 
  5. ^ Gassner, John; Quinn, Edward (1969). "England: middle ages". The Reader's Encyclopedia of World Drama. London: Methuen. pp. 203–204. OCLC 249158675. 
  6. ^ a b Bellinger, Martha Fletcher, "A Thousand Years Of Quiescence And The Beginnings Of Sacred Drama", A Short History of the Drama, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1927. pp. 115-21
  7. ^ "Mystery Play | Dramatic Genre." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 27 May 2013. Web. 6 February 2015.
  8. ^ Windeatt, Barry. "Medieval Imaginations: Literature & Visual Culture in the Middle Ages." Medieval Imaginations: Literature & Visual Culture in the Middle Ages. University of Cambridge, n.d. Web. 7 February 2015.
  9. ^ Windeatt, Barry. "Medieval Imaginations: Literature & Visual Culture in the Middle Ages." Medieval Imaginations: Literature & Visual Culture in the Middle Ages. University of Cambridge, n.d. Web. 7 February 2015. [ http://www.english.cam.ac.uk/medieval/mystery_plays.php ]
  10. ^ Oxenford, Lyn (1958). Playing Period Plays. Chicago, IL: Coach House Press. p. 3. ISBN 0853435499. 
  11. ^ Mikics, David (2007). A New Handbook of Literary Terms. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. p. 194. ISBN 9780300106367. 
  12. ^ "The London Burial Grounds: Notes on their History from the Earliest Times to the Present Day -Mrs. Basil Holmes (St Katherine Cree)". Londoncemeteries.co.uk. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "Liturgical drama: Definition from". Answers.com. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  14. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Spanish Language and Literature". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  15. ^ "mystery play". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 
  16. ^ Chambers, Robert (1844). Cyclopaedia of English Literature. Edinburgh, Scotland: Robert Chambers. OCLC 311881902. , quoted in Clopper, Lawrence M. (2001). Drama, play, and game: English festive culture in the medieval and early modern period. University of Chicago Press. pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-0-226-11030-1. 
  17. ^ St Just Plain-an-Gwarry. Historic Cornwall. Retrieved 23 September 2012.
  • Anderson Magalhães, Le Comédies bibliques di Margherita di Navarra, tra evangelismo e mistero medievale, in La mujer: de los bastidores al proscenio en el teatro del siglo XVI, ed. de I. Romera Pintor y J. L. Sirera, Valencia, Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2011, pp. 171–201.

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_play — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
1000000 videos foundNext > 

Let's Play - GTA V - Fly 'n' Chat Mystery Play

Geoff, Ryan, Ray, Michael and Gavin have a little chat and do... something in GTA. Try and figure out their objective in this week's Mystery Play! Hint: It's not that hard to figure out. RT...

Play Doh Hello Kitty Mystery Minis My Little Pony Fashems DC Superhero Surprise Eggs Blind Box

Play Doh Surprise Eggs Hello Kitty Mystery Minis Blind Box My Little Pony Fashems and DC Comics Superhero Mashems. We wrapped our DC Universe Superheroes and MLP Fashems in Play-Doh to ...

Hammer House Of Mystery And Suspense Child's Play 1984

A family awakens to find themselves trapped in their own home, all windows and doors sealed by impenetrable walls. Now they are faced with a bitter sequence of paranormal events forces that...

York Mystery Plays 2010 - an introduction

The York Mystery Plays are performed on wagons every four years. In 2010 our video-van.com outside broadcast unit was commissioned by the mystery plays board to film the plays for a DVD set...

The English Mystery Plays 2009

The English Mystery Play might be commonly considered the oldest form of popular entertainment in Western Europe, but in 2009 there was be just one Mystery Play, and it's taking place at Monk...

MZHP - English Mystery Plays 2009 - 06 Noah's Deluge (Part 1/2)

The English Mystery Plays 2009 - 06 Noah's Deluge (Part 1/2). Monk Bretton Priory, Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Noah (Richard Caile) is warned by God (Patrick Stuart) to build an ark in preparation...

Lets Play Skylanders Trap Team: Chapter 22 - MIRROR OF MYSTERY w/ Chompy & Mab Lobs

Mom plays M.O.M. w/ Dad & Chase too! We all play Mirror of Mystery for you guys! This is the funnest Skylanders Expansion Pack to date in our opinion, but there are still two left for Skylanders...

GIANT My Little Pony Play Doh Surprise Egg|MLP Mystery Mini, Blind Bags, Fashems, Figure Rings

Awesome Toys TV opens a Giant Play Doh Surprise Egg full of My Little Pony surprises! MLP Funko Mystery Mini, lots of blind bags, MLP fashems, Puzzle Eraseez. Please Subscribe - http://bit.ly/JoinA...

Blind Box Kinder Surprise Play-Doh Disney Cars Funko Marvel Mystery Minis Kidrobot HobbyKidsTV #HKTV

HobbyKidsTV presents Blind Box Kinder Surprise Play-Doh Disney Cars Opening. Watch HobbyDad and HobbyKid Open up a boat load of Blind boxes from Kidrobot, Mini Mystery, Funko and more.

HUGE Funko Mystery Minis Play Doh Surprise Egg Deathstroke DC Comics Super Heroes LEGO Toys

FUNKO Mystery Minis DC Comics Superheroes Blind Box Opening with Huge Deathstroke Surprise Egg Play Doh and Chocolate Huevos Sorpresa Batman Superhero Toy Eggs. LEGO DC Comic Blind ...

1000000 videos foundNext > 

734 news items

Stroud News and Journal

Stroud News and Journal
Wed, 18 Mar 2015 08:35:08 -0700

A POPULAR annual murder mystery play raised almost £2,000 for Nkokoto – the Tanzanian village twinned with Minchinhampton. Written by Gerry Robbins, the play was performed by eight actors with an interval to give the audience time to solve the mystery.
 
Mount Airy News
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:30:00 -0700

The event is slated for Friday, April 17 at 6 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Haymore Baptist Church located at 319 Rockford Street in Mount Airy. Tickets are $20 per person which includes the mystery play and a catered meal. Tickets are sold in advance ...
 
Daily Democrat
Thu, 19 Mar 2015 17:11:15 -0700

Find out next Friday, March 27, at the 16th Annual Friends of the Woodland Public Library murder-mystery play. “The Carnegie Caper” will be solved by the audience — who did it, using what weapon and where, and the “ace detective” who solves the ...

ChristianToday

ChristianToday
Sun, 29 Mar 2015 03:30:00 -0700

Like a medieval mystery play, it concentrates on a battle between Christ and the Devil, but unlike the idea of the 'harrowing of hell' in the earlier conception, Butcher's play is set in the world – an unspecified fusion between first-century Jerusalem ...

Isanti County News

Isanti County News
Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:33:45 -0700

“Till Death Do Us Part,” is a new mystery play, written by Roger Gerdin of Milaca. This is the eleventh murder mystery written by Gerdin in his series of environmental, audience evolving murder mysteries. They are designed to take place in bar ...

The News-Press

The News-Press
Sat, 14 Mar 2015 21:18:45 -0700

An improvisational acting troupe from The Murder Mystery Co. will stage the interactive comedy-mystery play “Crime and Pun-ishment,” where they will transform the Yacht Club into Mafia Don Lou Zar's speakeasy for the evening. “We're always looking for ...

Antrim Times

Antrim Times
Fri, 20 Mar 2015 04:03:45 -0700

The Ballymena branch of the RNLI is staging their latest murder mystery play, performed by members of the Ad Hoc Theatre Company, at Ballymena Rugby Club on Friday, March 27. The play - A Bitter Death - and a two-course meal is included in the ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:04:46 -0700

It was a mystery play of a sort, a carnival, and for those of a religious and royalist disposition there was the added bonus of the archbishop and a couple of dukes. Memories of Olivier in the film role, knights in battle, flags and banners, uniforms ...
Loading

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight