Medieval Theatre

Medieval Theatre - Medieval Theatre 1000-1550 C.E. THEA 200...

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Medieval Theatre 1000-1550 C.E. THEA 200 TA: Miriam Hahn
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What are we talking about? Plays (decreasing popularity through the Roman empire) Mime Women performers No masks Talking Included graphic sex and violence (simulated and real) Plus: Chariot and horse races, gladiators, animal vs. animal, man vs. animal, naumachia (sea battles)
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Rise of Christianity in Roman Empire Issue of monotheism Persecution by Roman authorities Edict of toleration in 311 Conversion of Constantine in 312 Christian church’s opposition to theatre (especially mime) Trullan Synod of 692 seeks to end all performances – not entirely successful
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Fall of Rome (When in Rome, get out…) 410 CE - Rome sacked by the Visigoths (German “Barbarians”) Roads and waterways fall into disrepair Transportation and communication are more difficult Rule by force – laws abandoned as pirates and brigands gain power and influence Monetary system fails and is replaced by barter Highly localized regions without a strong center Moving into the “Middle Ages” – so named because this was seen as a low point between the heights of the Roman empire and of the Renaissance.
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Feudalism Social base is the manor instead of the town. Self-contained agricultural units. Serfs worked for lords in exchange for protection. Travel is infrequent between manors. Christian church becomes the only unifying force, and its hierarchies are the most organized form of government available: Priests Bishops Archbishops Cardinals Pope Mirrors the pyramid of power in feudal society. Peasants at the bottom of both pyramids – they are largely overworked, undereducated, and impoverished, doing menial labor for the feudal lords and the churches.
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Moving Eastwards Constantine built a new capital – Constantinople. This became the new center of culture. The Eastern portion of the Roman Empire (Byzantium) begins to surpass the West.
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Hroswitha (aka Hrosvita) c. 950 Benedictine Nun Wrote 7 plays Plays imitate the style of Terence’s comedies but are intended as an alternative to the vulgarity of his plays Plays are highly didactic and celebrate the “laudable chastity of holy maidens” First known female playwright First known post-Roman playwright Bridges the gap between classical theatre and the subsequent dramas of the Middle Ages
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Quem Quaeritis (c. 975) The Trope : a liturgical embellishment This one, by Ethelwold, had stage directions indicating a couple of things: Simultaneous : Several different locations rendered dramatically at once Emblematic : Hell mouth, revolving globe Environmental : Found space (church), rather than permanent performance space This is the birth of the liturgical drama , also called Latin music drama because these plays were often chanted or sung in Latin, the official language of the church.
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This note was uploaded on 02/17/2011 for the course THEA 200 taught by Professor Theaterappreciate/understanding during the Fall '11 term at South Carolina.

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Medieval Theatre - Medieval Theatre 1000-1550 C.E. THEA 200...

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