The Practicalities of Early English Performance: Manuscripts, Records, and Staging: Shifting Paradigms in Early English Drama Studies, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Practicalities of Early English Performance: Manuscripts, Records, and Staging

Shifting Paradigms in Early English Drama Studies, 1st Edition

By Peter Meredith

Edited by John Marshall


362 pages | 67 B/W Illus.

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Collected Studies CS1069

The essays selected for this volume reflect Peter Meredith’s major contribution to the revival and revision of academic and public interest in medieval English drama and theatre. A number of coinciding factors in the last quarter of the twentieth century brought together a group of scholars, represented here in the Shifting Paradigms series, determined to place the study of medieval drama in a broader context than that of solely reading texts. The publication of Records of Early English Drama, the University of Leeds facsimiles of medieval drama manuscripts, the establishment of the journal and annual meetings of Medieval English Theatre, brought a wider perspective to the discipline. And, by no means least, the bringing to bear of all these ground-breaking developments to the mammoth tasks of recreating in the public domain the original-staging of medieval plays. Peter Meredith had a hand in the formation and lasting influence of all these crucial innovations. The variety and depth of his comprehensive approach to the study of medieval drama and theatre is clearly evinced in each of the essays chosen for this volume.

Table of Contents


Part I: Matters of Manuscript and Text

1. ‘"Nolo Mortem" and the Ludus Coventriae Play of the Woman Taken in Adultery’, , 38 (1969), pp. 38-54

2. ‘A Reconsideration of Some Textual Problems in the N-Town Manuscript (BL MS Cotton Vespasian D viii)’, LSE, n.s. 9 (1976-77), pp. 35-50

3. ‘John Clerke’s Hand in the York Register’, Essays in Honour of A.C. Cawley, ed. by Peter Meredith, LSE, n.s. 12 for 1980-81 (1981), pp. 245-71

4. ‘The York Millers’ Pageant and the Towneley Processus TalentorumMETh, 4.2 (1982), pp. 104-14

5. ‘Scribes, Texts and Performances’ in Aspects of Early English Drama, ed. by Paula Neuss (Cambridge: Boydell & Brewer, 1984), pp. 13-29

6. ‘The Towneley cycle’ in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre, ed. by Richard Beadle (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, second edition, 2008), pp. 134-62, 2nd edn, pp.152-82.

7. ‘Establishing an Expositor’s Role: Contemplacio and the N. Town Manuscript’ in The Narrator, the Expositor, and the Prompter in European Medieval Theatre, ed. by Philip Butterworth (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 289-306

Part II: Resuscitating Records

8. ‘The Development of the Mercers’ Pageant Waggon’, METh, 1.1 (1979), pp. 5-18

9. ‘"Item for a grone – ijd" – Records and Performances’ in Proceedings of the First Colloquium at Ernindale College, University of Toronto, 31 Aug.-3 Sept. 1978, ed. by JoAnna Dutka (Toronto: Records of Early English Drama, University of Toronto, 1979), pp. 26-60

10. ‘The Ordo Paginarum and the Development of the York Tilemakers’ Pageant’, LSE, n.s. 11 for 1979 (1980), pp. 59-73

11. ‘"Make the asse to speake" or Staging the Chester Plays’ in Staging the Chester Cycle, ed. by David Mills, Leeds Texts and Monographs, ns 9 (Leeds: Leeds School of English, University of Leeds, 1985), pp. 49-76

12. ‘The Fifteenth-Century Audience of the York Corpus Christi Play: Records and Speculation’ in ‘Divers Toyes Mengled’: Essays on Medieval and Renaissance Culture in Honour of André Lascombes, ed. by Michel Bitot, Roberta Mullini, and Peter Happé (Tours: Université François Rabelais, 1996), pp. 101-11

13. ‘Professional Travelling Players of the Fifteenth Century: Myth or Reality?’ in European Medieval Drama 1997: Papers from the Second International Conference on Aspects of European Medieval Drama, Camerino, 4-6 July, 1997, ed. by Sydney Higgins (Camerino: Università Degli Studi di Camerino, 1997), pp. 25-40

Part III: Performance-Original and Modern

14. ‘Original-staging production of English medieval plays – ideals, evidence and practice’ in Popular Drama in Northern Europe in the Later Middle Ages: A Symposium. Proceedings of the Eleventh International Symposium organized by the Centre for the Study of Vernacular Literature in the Middle Ages held at Odense University on 17-18 September, 1986, ed. by Flemming G. Andersen, Julia McGrew, Tom Pettitt and Reinhold Schröder (Odense: Odense University Press, 1988), pp. 65-100

15. ‘Mankind in Camerino: Playing the very devil and other matters’ Studies in Theatre Production, 16 (December, 1997), pp. 84-92

16. ‘Performance, Verse, and Occasion in the N-Town Mary Play’ in Individuality and Achievement in Middle English Poetry, ed. by O.S. Pickering (Cambridge: Boydell & Brewer, 1997), pp. 205-22

17. ‘Carved and Spoken Words: The Angelic Salutation, The Mary Play and South Walsham Church, Norfolk’ in Porci ante Margaritam: Essays in honour of Meg Twycross, ed. by Sarah Carpenter, Pamela King, and Peter Meredith, Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 32 (Leeds: School of English, University of Leeds, 2001), pp. 369-98

18. ‘The Sealing of the Tomb: N.Town and its Context’ in According to the Ancient Custom: Essays presented to David Mills, ed. by Phil Butterworth, Pamela M. King, and Meg Twycross, METh, 29 (2007), pp. 75-88

About the Author/Editor

Peter Meredith is Emeritus Professor of Medieval Drama at the University of Leeds, UK.

John Marshall is Senior Research Fellow in Theatre at the University of Bristol, UK.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General