Drama – English Literature Essay (100 Level Course)
If the 15th century was comparatively poor in poetry and prose, it was rich in plays. It saw the flourishing of Medieval Drama, which would pave the way for the great Elizabethan theatre.Medieval Drama developed from liturgical ceremonies; the origins of medieval plays may in fact be found in the rituals of the Church. The clergy had always tried to convey the chief events of the
Christian religion to an illiterate populace by means of dramatic performances. In Italy, for instance, St. Francis had represented Christ’s nativity with a real child in the cradle, surrounded by real people and animals. Easter performances had been even more impressive.
After music was introduced into churches in the 6th century, and words were later fitted to the melodies, a dramatic dialogue began to emerge, initial ly in the form of an alternating chant between priest and choir.
Little by little, processional and scenic effects were added, which, by in creasing dramatic action, also required more complicated stage properties. All of this produced a gradual evolution from liturgical drama to Miracle and Mystery Plays1. Latin was slowly replaced by the vernacular, and secular elements became increasingly common.
As the Miracle Plays grew in popularity, performances inside churches be came more and more difficult because of the growing size of the audience. So the plays were removed from the churches and began to be performed out of doors, first in the church courtyard and then in other open spaces of the town.