Medieval theatre refers to the theatre in the period between the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. and the beginning of the Renaissance in approximately the 15th century A.D. Medieval theatre covers all drama produced in Europe over that thousand year period and refers to a variety of genres, including liturgical drama, mystery plays, morality plays, farces and masques. Beginning with Hrosvitha of Gandersheim in the 10th century, Medieval drama was for the most part very religious and moral in its themes, staging and traditions. The most famous examples of Medieval plays are the English cycle dramas, the York Mystery Plays, the Chester Mystery Plays, the Wakefield Mystery Plays and the N-Town Plays, as well as the morality play, Everyman.
Due to a lack of surviving records and texts, a low literacy rate of the general population, and the opposition of the clergy to some types of performance, there are few surviving sources on Medieval drama of the Early and High Medieval periods. However, by the late period, drama and theatre began to become more secularized and a larger number of records survive documenting plays and performances.
Artsworld Discussion about passion plays.
Barbara Bishop Useful summary of the characteristics of morality and mystery plays.
Cambridge History of American and English Literature Contents index of an excellent resource with many articles on all aspects of Medieval religious plays.
Campbellsport Public Schools Useful discussion of medieval mystery and miracle plays.
Lancaster University York Doomsday Project.
Montreat College Background to medieval drama and discussion of mystery plays.
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Comprehensive essay discussing medieval miracle and mystery plays.
New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Article on morality plays.
Northern University Medieval drama FAQs.
Robert Clark and Claire Sponsler Essay examining cross-dressing in Medieval drama.
Rhodes University Useful article on religion in 15th Century England.
Tina Blue Discussion about the morality play in English drama, including a useful glossary of relevant terms.
Trinity University Timeline of the medieval world.
University of Victoria Useful information on medieval morality and mystery plays.
York Early Music History of medieval plays.
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