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Introduction The articles in this collection are selected from the papers given at the Sixth Triennial Colloquium of the International Society for the Study of the Medieval Theatre (SITM), which was held at Lancaster, Great Britain, on 13-19 July 1989. One of the topics under discussion was "Iconography and Theater," and these papers represent the wide range of approaches which are such a stimulating feature of an international gathering. The relation between medieval art and medieval drama is a perennially fascinating and contentious one. We would no longer declare sanguinely with Emile Mâle that fifteenth-century artists were so affected by the mystery plays that when they came to represent the same scenes, "ils peignaient donc ce qu'ils avaient vu."i The relationships between the two are more subtle and complex than that, besides being based on the false and modern premise that good artists copy life: most artists, unromantically , tended to copy other artists. Just because an image is lively, it does not necessarily come from life—and liveliness is no proof that it comes from the theater. Paola Ventrone (University of Bologna) in her opening paper wisely warns us against the mirror-image evaluation which takes it as axiomatic that Theater > Painting and Painting > Theater. She illustrates her case by comparing two eminently "theatrical" Italian works—Giotto's frescoes in the Upper Basilica of Assisi and Benozzo Gozzoli's frescoes of the Journey of the Magi (1459) in the Chapel of the Palazzo Medici in Florence—with the type of staging current at that time and in those places. (She also suggests some reasons as to why we, as late twentieth-century viewers, should perceive these paintings as "theatrical.") She then proceeds to show how and why the Gozzoli Magi can help us to an understanding of theatrical events without slavishly mirroring them. Stanley Damberger and Ellin M. Kelly (DePaul University), writing on the sixteenth-century Breton Calvaries, which look intensely theatrical, cannot prove that these are directly affected by the publication of Quillevere's 1530 edition of 2 Introduction the medieval Breton Passion and Resurrection play, the Burzud bras Jezuz. Post hoc is not necessarily propter hoc, and they do not find any details in the Calvaries which are only to be found in the play, but it is interesting, at the least, that this publication should be followed by an apparent fashion for massive and complex carved tellings of the Passion. Two papers in particular look at the spatial disposition of the medieval stage picture. Francesc Massip's (Barcelona) survey of the European plays of the Assumption of the Virgin, in which Spain is particularly rich, attempts a codification of the different axes along which they are constructed. The subject matter is both horizontal and, at its climactic moments, vertical. In countries where the tradition of performance is quasi-liturgical and therefore based inside the church, architectural opportunities exist for extending the vertical to breathtaking heights, as in the Misteri of Elche; but even outdoor urban staging, either fixed or on pageant wagons, contrives an impressive vertical dimension, which is to be read symbolically as well as literally. Clifford Davidson (Western Michigan University), speaking of "positional symbolism" and our egalitarian lack of it in modern productions, makes a strong argument for respecting the medieval sense of hierarchy: without it, productions collapse into "visual incoherence" which adversely affects the audience's perception even of the script. The modern yearning for "spontaneity" and "creativity" can all too often be an excuse for not working on what the play itself is trying to tell us, and it consequently tells us nothing. The respect for positional patterns should extend to all visual effects, which are integral to a theater that expected its audience to read its picture. Aim Eljenholm Nichols (Winona State University) returns us to the Assumption plays in her detailed account of the "Hierosphthitic Topos," a fascinating piece of scholarship which argues convincingly for the image of the body of Mary as a tabernacle, a living ciborium of the Body of Christ. Here the unbelievers fail to see the image immanent in the body: they are restored to bodily wholeness themselves when they acquire spiritual...


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