Skip to comments.The Body of Christ; Sacred Street Theater in Medieval England
Posted on 08/14/2012 6:35:21 AM PDT by marshmallow
Medieval Mystery Play by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton, twentieth century.
Doomsday, 1433. In York, after dark.
A red curtain. Painted stars. Actors in hoses, wigs, and two-faced maskssome in angel wings, some with trumpets. Wooden clouds and pieces of rainbow, and an iron frame with pulleys meant to effect Christs movements between Heaven and Earth. a hell mouth billowing smoke and the smell of sulfur. Even a host of tiny puppet angels, set running about the firmament by means of rollers and a bit of twine.
And in the midst of all this pomp and technology, God the Son, wearing a crown and golden mask, Holy Wounds gaping, enters from above:
This woffull worlde is brought till ende,
Mi Fadir of hevene he woll (wills that) it be;
Therfore till erthe nowe will I wende,
Miselve to sitte in magesté.
To deme my domes (issue my judgments) I woll descende,
This body will I bere with me,
Howe it was dight (put to suffering), mannes mys (mans sins) to mende.
All mankynde there schall it see.
Obviously, says Clifford Davidson, it was intended to be a big flash. Everything builds up to the Last Judgment.
Thats right: Everything.
Davidson, professor of English and medieval studies emeritus at Western Michigan University (WMU), is referring to the York Corpus Christi Cycle in toto, a daylong theatrical celebration of the eucharist, held on the seventh Thursday after Easter, that almost every year, from 1377 to 1569, wound through the narrow streets of Englands then northern capital, presenting its audiences with nothing less than a staged vision of the sacred history of the worldall of it, from the pre-Creation Fall of Lucifer to the Saviors final sifting of the faithful from.....
(Excerpt) Read more at neh.gov ...
Fast-forward to today, where street theater is what goes on in San Francisco’s Castro district. I don’t call that progress.
I wonder, what were the viewers wont to do AFTER the performance?
That was a really cool post, marshmallow. Thank you.
Led to Shakespeare.
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