Theater of the Middle Ages Research Paper by WalterGrov

Theater of the Middle Ages
This paper examines the misconceptions of theater of the High Middle Ages.
# 95493 | 2,179 words | 16 sources | MLA | 2006 | US

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This paper discusses the revival of theater in Europe, beginning in the tenth century, as inspired and sponsored by the Catholic Church. The writer examines how historians now consider the High Middle Ages as the third major theatrical era in Western history. The paper further illustrates how major dramatic forms were connected with the church, its rituals, and its calendar of religious observances. The author explains the importance of these dramas , which included making church services more appealing and teaching scriptural history to the masses. The three types of plays that came out of the High Middle Ages are presented. The author concludes by arguing that drama other than that associated with the Church did exist at this time, influencing theater in the Late Middle Ages and even today.

From the Paper:

"Since Plato's The Republic, the depiction of art, particularly theatre, has been treated as a secondary if not inconsequential chronicle and portrayal of any given era. Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than during the Middle Ages, where the major dramatic forms, if they existed at all and if they could be called theatre, could only be performed if they were connected with and sanctioned by the church. Coinciding with the well-deserved title of the Dark Ages, the Catholic Church has been historically credited of having begun a revival of theatre in Europe. Extant plays, sponsored by the church and dating back to the tenth century, are categorized into three distinct genres: liturgical drama, which enacted part of the liturgy of the Catholic Mass; cycle plays, which illustrated scriptural history; and morality drama, which metaphorically endorsed the symbolic structure of Christian life. The provincial dramaturgical view generally holds that that these were the only forms of theatre of the time. However, more recent scholarship demonstrates that as these performance-based church rituals begot theatre and theatre further begot church ritual, other plays like university plays, pageants, mummings and disguisings, interludes, other non-cycle religious plays, and drama came into play and that collectively, theatre of the High Middle Ages impacted the evolution of theatre into the Late Middle Ages, and what it is today."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Anonymous. "The Second Shepherd's Play." 10th-14th Century Drama Online Texts. AltaVista Directory. 29 Oct. 2006 <>.
  • Anonymous. "The Towneley Plays." Electronic Text Center. University of Virginia Library. <>.
  • Anonymous. "The York Plays." Electronic Text Center. University of Virginia Library. <>.
  • Beadle, Richard, and Pamela M. King, eds. York Mystery Plays: a Selection in Modern Spelling. 2nd ed. Oxford UP, 1999.
  • Cawley, A.C. Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays. E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1959.

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APA Format

Theater of the Middle Ages (2007, May 24) Retrieved June 04, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Theater of the Middle Ages" 24 May 2007. Web. 04 June. 2020. <>