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From page to performance

essays in early English drama

John A. Alford

Publication Year: 1995

This book is a collection of 22 essays by scholars in the field of Medieval Drama, mostly relating to performance both past and present. Alford wrote one essay in the book.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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pp. ix

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pp. 1-12

The point hardly needs stating in the case of modern drama. The Importance of Being Ernest or A Streetcar Named Desire are stock repertory because of their proven appeal as theater, and more people are likely to have seen these plays than to have read them. The reverse is true of our knowledge of earlier drama. Generally...

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1. The Mass as Performance Text

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pp. 13-24

Some ministers of religion who have seized on the dramatic possibilities of conducting services in order to win over the hearts and minds of their parishioners have attracted criticism. For instance, in a poem entitled "In Church" Thomas Hardy writes about a preacher who is seen by one of his...

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2. From Mappa Mundi to Theatrum Mundi: The World as Stage in Early English Drama

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pp. 25-49

The continuity of the native dramatic tradition from its popular roots to the drama of Shakespeare has been given less theoretical attention over the years than the subject commands. In part, I believe, the problem has resulted from the narrow periodization and specialization that has drawn hard and...

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3. Asleep Onstage

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pp. 51-83

Characters asleep onstage are not especially common in ancient and modern drama. The few examples one can find do not suggest a thematic or dramaturgic pattern. Strepsiades, in Aristophanes' The Clouds, finds his horse-loving son Pheidippides asleep one morning, farting happily under...

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4. Acting Mary: The Emotional Realism of the Mature Virgin in the N-Town Plays

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pp. 85-98

The founding almost thirty years ago of the Poculi Ludique Societas, the medieval and Renaissance play group of the University of Toronto, can be attributed directly to the enthusiasm of Arnold Williams for the production of early drama. At a meeting of the seminar which he founded in...

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5. The Performance of Some Wakefield Master Plays on the University of Illinois Campus

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pp. 99-108

As a student thirty years ago in Arnold Williams's graduate course in Middle English literature, I heard him discuss the performance aspects of cycle drama and moralities in a way that was quite unfamiliar to me and, I suspect, to the other members of the class. Although this class was...

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6. The Problem with Mrs. Noah: The Search for Performance Credibility in the Chester Noah’s Flood Play

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pp. 109-126

Directors who approach the Chester Noah's Flood play may find themselves intimidated by the character of Mrs. Noah.

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7. The Theaters of Everyman

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pp. 127-149

Everyman occupies a special place in the revival of medieval drama in England in the twentieth century. The success it has enjoyed since the time of Edward Poel's revival of the play at London's Charterhouse in 1901 has not only made it, in the words of Arnold Williams, "the morality play best known...

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8. “My Name is Worship”: Masquerading Vice in Medwall’s Nature

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pp. 151-177

Pride's assumption of the name Worship is only the first in a series of virtuous pseudonyms taken by the vice figures in this play in order to deceive Man or, as one of them says, "to blear his eye" (81). Pride's retinue, the rest of the seven deadly sins, all follow his lead. Covetousness misrepresents himself...

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9. Plays, Players, and Playwrights in Renaissance Oxford

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pp. 179-194

The recent publication of the records of dramatic activity at Cambridge University by Alan H. Nelson has made available a large amount of evidence, much of it appearing in print for the first time, about the extensive part that drama played in the education of Cambridge students, particularly...

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10. English Chronicle Contexts for Shakespeare’s Death of Richard II

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pp. 195-219

The murder of the king, weapon in hand, struck down (probably with a poleaxe) by Sir Pierce of Exton, in Shakespeare's Richard II (1595) is remarkable for several reasons. It shows a decisive aspect of Richard's character that is free of any sense of resignation or passive fatalism-in his...

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11. Family by Death: Stage Images in Titus Andronicus and The Winter’s Tale

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pp. 221-233

Trained by productions and informed by dreams, we can find, in the images of Shakespeare's stage, emphases, patterns, and connections that reside deeper than words. Reading the stage images of Titus Andronicus and The Winter's Tale, for example, we realize that these plays are strange but not...

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12. Bearing “A Wary Eye”: Ludic Vengeance and Doubtful Suicide in Hamlet

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pp. 235-253

Immediately before the start of fencing competition during which Hamlet will receive the wound that kills him, Claudius commands, "And you, the judges, bear a wary eye" (5.2.277).


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pp. 255-257


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pp. 259-266

E-ISBN-13: 9780870138843
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870133794

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 1995