1st Edition

Early English Performance: Medieval Plays and Robin Hood Games
Shifting Paradigms in Early English Drama Studies

ISBN 9781138370937
Published September 29, 2019 by Routledge
372 Pages

USD $180.00

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Book Description

Covering a period of nearly 40 years’ work by the author this collection of essays in the Shifting Paradigms in Early English Drama Studies series brings the perspective of a Drama academic and practitioner of early English plays to the understanding of how medieval plays and Robin Hood games of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were performed. It explores why, where, when, and how the plays happened, who took part, and who were the audiences. The insights are informed by a combination of research and the public presentation of surviving texts. The research included in the volume unites the early English experiences of religious and secular performance. This recognition challenges the dominant critical distinction of the past between the two and the consequent privileging of biblical and moral plays over secular entertainments. What further binds, rather than separates, the two is that the destination of funds raised by the different activities maintained the civic and parochial needs of the institutions upon which the people depended. This collection redefines the inclusive nature and common interests of the purposes that lay behind generically different undertakings. They shared an extraordinary investment of human and financial resources in the anticipation of a profit that was pious and practical.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Philip Butterworth

Part I: Dating, staging, and playing the Chester Whitsun Plays

1. 'The Chester Whitsun Plays: Dating of post-Reformation performances from the Smiths' accounts', Leeds Studies in English, n.s 9 (1977)

2. 'Players of the Coopers' pageant from the Chester Plays in 1572 and 1575', Theatre Notebook, 33 (1979)

3. '"The Manner of these Playes": The Chester pageant carriages and the places where they played', Staging the Chester Cycle, ed. by David Mills (Leeds, Leeds Texts and Monographs, 1985)

4. 'Nailing the six-wheeled waggon: A sideview', Medieval English Theatre, 12 (1985)

5. '"Walking in the air": The Chester shepherds on stilts', According to the Ancient Custom: Essays presented to David Mills, ed. by Philip Butterworth, Pamela M. King and Meg Twycross, Medieval English Theatre, 29 (2009 for 2007)

Part II: Who, where, when, and why: Non-cycle and single episode plays in performance

6. 'Marginal staging marks in the Macro manuscript of Wisdom', Medieval English Theatre, 7 (1985)

7. '"Her virgynes, as many as a man wylle": Dance and provenance in three late medieval plays; Wisdom/The Killing of the Children/The Conversion of St Paul', Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 25 (1994)

8. '"Fortune in worldys worschyppe": The satirising of the Suffolks in Wisdom', Medieval English Theatre, 14 (1994 for 1992)

9. '"O ye souerens that sytt and ye brothern that stonde right wppe", Addressing the audience of Mankind', in European Medieval Drama, 1 (1997), ed. by Sydney Higgins (Turnhout; Brepols)

Part III: Archiving the ephemeral: Contemporary depictions of performance and modern productions of medieval plays

10. 'The medieval English stage: A graffito of a hell-mouth scaffold?',Theatre Notebook, 34 (1980)

11. 'The crowning with thorns and the mocking of Christ: A fifteenth-century performance analogue', Theatre Notebook, 45 (1991)

12. 'A scene from the life of St Edmund: Dramatic representation in an English medieval alabaster', Theatre Notebook, 48 (1994)

13. 'Modern productions of Medieval English plays', in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre, ed. by Richard Beadle (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

Part IV: Robin Hood Games: Customary performance and raising funds

14. '"goon in-to Bernysdale": The trail of the Paston Robin Hood play', Essays in Honour of Peter Meredith, ed. by Catherine Batt, Leeds Studies in English, n.s 29 (1998)

15. '"Comyth in Robyn Hode": Paying and playing the outlaw in Croscombe', Porci ante Margaritam: Esays in Honour of Meg Twycross, ed. by Sarah Carpenter, Pamela King and Peter Meredith, Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 32 (2001)

16. 'Gathering in the name of the outlaw: REED and Robin Hood', in REED in Review: Essays in Celebration of the First Twenty-Five Years, ed. by Audrey Douglas and Sally-Beth MacLean (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006)

17. 'Riding with Robin Hood: English pageantry and the making of a legend', in The Making of the Middle Ages: Liverpool Essays, ed. by Marios Costembeys, Andrew Hamer and Martin Heale (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007)

18. 'Picturing Robin Hood in early print and performance: 1500-1590', in Images of Robin Hood: Medieval to Modern, ed. by Lois Potter and Joshua Calhoun (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2008)

19. 'Revisiting and revising Robin Hood in sixteenth-century London', in Robin Hood in Outlaw/ed Spaces, ed. by Lesley Coote and Valerie B. Johnson (London and New York: Routledge, 2017)

John Marshall's bibliography


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John Marshall has spent all of his academic career teaching in university departments of Drama. He taught in the Department of Drama: Theatre, Film and Television (now Department of Theatre), University of Bristol for 20 years. Following his retirement he was appointed Senior Research Fellow in Theatre at the University of Bristol, a post he continues to hold. He has published extensively in the areas of medieval English theatre and Robin Hood in performance. He has also acted in and directed productions of a wide range of plays from both categories.


‘...rich detail and searching analysis [are] offered by this valuable collection of the essays of a major medieval scholar’ – Stephen Knight, International Association for Robin Hood Studies

‘... the insightfulness of the essays here collected is due in no large part to the fact that Marshall has had repeated success as an actor, director, teacher, literary critic, cultural observer, and theater historian... The nineteen essays here collected are a tribute to John Marshall's invaluable contributions to our ever-expanding understanding of early English dramatic performance and make possible future contributions to a variety of fields of cultural and theater studies’ – Kevin J. Harty, Arthuriana (Volume 30, Number 2)