Drama in Medieval and Early Modern Europe : Playmakers and their Strategies book cover
1st Edition

Drama in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Playmakers and their Strategies

ISBN 9781138189379
Published April 8, 2019 by Routledge
166 Pages

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Book Description

Drama in Medieval and Early Modern Europe moves away from the customary conceptual framework that artificially separates ‘medieval’ from ‘early modern’ drama to explore the role of drama and spectacle in England, France, the Low Countries, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and the German-speaking areas that now constitute Austria and Germany.

This book investigates the ranges of dramatic and performative techniques and strategies that playmakers across Europe used to adapt their work to the changing contexts in which they performed, and to the changing or expanding audiences that they faced. It considers the different views expressed through drama and spectacle on shared historical events, how communities coped with similar issues and why they ritually recycled these themes through reinvented or alternative forms that replaced or existed alongside their predecessors. A wide variety of genres of play are discussed throughout, including visitatio sepulchri (visit to the tomb) plays; Easter and Passion plays and morality plays; the French civic mystère; Italian sacre rappresentazioni performed by choirboys in the context of the church; Bürgertheater from the Swiss Confederacy; drama performed for the purpose of royal entertainment and propaganda; May and summer games; and the commercial, professional theatre of Shakespeare and Lope de Vega.

Examining the strength of drama in relation to the larger cultural forces to which it adapted, and demonstrating the use of social, political, economic, and artistic networks to educate and support the social structures of communities, Drama in Medieval and Early Modern Europe offers a broader understanding of a shared European past across the traditional chronological divide of 1500. It is ideal for students of social history, and the history of medieval and early modern drama or literature.

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1 Mass murder: Shocking spectators of late medieval sacrament plays; 2 The strumpet saint: Eroticism and artifice in Mary Magdalene plays; 3 Wilhelm Tell and Robin Hood, outlaws or elite?; 4 The perils of public festivity; Conclusion: Playmakers and their strategies; Bibliography; Index

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Nadia Thérèse van Pelt is a Lecturer at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. She obtained her PhD at the University of Southampton in 2014 and focuses her research on early European drama and spectacle, through the study of playmaker strategies and spectatorship.


"At its best, this useful study provides an innovative framework for approaching the relationship between spectatorship, performances and playmakers. The chapters adroitly bring together performances in a pan-European context which is still all too little discussed."

Jamie Beckett, Literature & History, UK

"Accompanying its readers across an impressive range of geographic, temporal, or linguistic boundaries, Drama in Medieval and Early Modern Europe guides them toward a better understanding of the common ground on which the theatrical cultures of medieval and early modern Europe were built."

David J. Amelang, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain, RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY VOLUME LXXIV