Video appunto: The Medieval Drama
First of all, the origins of the theatre in Britain are linked to religious celebrations, especially to Christian events; these representations took place in the churches at first, and then they moved outside. So, when performances were in public places, Latin was replaced with English and lay people took the place of monks and priests.
Those firsts representations (13th, 14th and 15th century) were called ‘Miracle Plays’, as they narrated, with a dramatic shape, the whole story of the Bible.
The Miracle Plays were staged by members of guilds and they were mainly performed on movable stage wagons, called ‘pageants’, that stopped at some places in towns; these pageants were open on all sides and people used to stop in front of a pageant to watch the episode the wanted to see and they moved from one pageant to another to see whatever they wanted.
After Miracle Plays, became popular the ‘Morality Plays’, whose characters weren’t taken from the Bible, in fact they were personifications of human vices and virtues.
The plots of those plays were invented, and the plots moved from ancient history to a modern environment.
The Actors, who represented these plays, were members of a specific association formed for acting. Those Actors wanted to protect themselves, so most of them came under the patronage of important lords; to these lords, the actors presented their shows.
Then became popular the ‘Interlude’, a short play usually performed by a small acting company at a lord’s house. The Interlude combined serious and comic elements and usually were used disguises and a character called the ‘Vice’.