The origins of english drama

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The origins of english drama

A History of English Literature.

The origins of english drama

FOLK PLAYS In England the folk-plays, throughout the Middle Ages The origins of english drama in remote spots down almost to the present time, sometimes took the form of energetic dances Morris dances, they came to be called, through confusion with Moorish performances of the same general nature.

Others of them, however, exhibited in the midst of much rough-and-tumble fighting and buffoonery, a slight thread of dramatic action.

Their characters gradually came to be a conventional set, partly famous figures of popular tradition, such as St. Other offshoots of the folk-play were the 'mummings' and 'disguisings,' collective names for many forms of processions, shows, and other entertainments, such as, among the upper classes, that precursor of the Elizabethan Mask in which a group of persons in disguise, invited or uninvited, attended a formal dancing party.

In the later part of the Middle Ages, also, there were the secular pageants, spectacular displays rather different from those of the twentieth century given on such occasions as when a king or other person of high rank made formal entry into a town.

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They consisted of an elaborate scenic background set up near the city gate or on the street, with figures from allegorical or traditional history who engaged in some pantomime or declamation, but with very little dramatic dialog, or none. But all these forms, though they were not altogether without later influence, were very minor affairs, and the real drama of the Middle Ages grew up, without design and by the mere nature of things, from the regular services of the Church.

We must try in the first place to realize clearly the conditions under which the church service, the mass, was conducted during all the medieval centuries. We should picture to ourselves congregations of persons for the most part grossly ignorant, of unquestioning though very superficial faith, and of emotions easily aroused to fever heat.

Of the Latin words of the service they understood nothing; and of the Bible story they had only a very general impression. It was necessary, therefore, that the service should be given a strongly spectacular and emotional character, and to this end no effort was spared.

The great cathedrals and churches were much the finest buildings of the time, spacious with lofty pillars and shadowy recesses, rich in sculptured stone and in painted windows that cast on the walls and pavements soft and glowing patterns of many colors and shifting forms.

The service itself was in great part musical, the confident notes of the full choir joining with the resonant organ-tones; and after all the rest the richly robed priests and ministrants passed along the aisles in stately processions enveloped in fragrant clouds of incense.

That the eye if not the ear of the spectator, also, might catch some definite knowledge, the priests as they read the Bible stories sometimes displayed painted rolls which vividly pictured the principal events of the day's lesson.

Origin of Drama in English Literature | Owlcation

Still, however, a lack was strongly felt, and at last, accidentally and slowly, began the process of dramatizing the services.

First, inevitably, to be so treated was the central incident of Christian faith, the story of Christ's resurrection. The earliest steps were very simple. First, during the ceremonies on Good Friday, the day when Christ was crucified, the cross which stood all the year above the altar, bearing the Savior's figure, was taken down and laid beneath the altar, a dramatic symbol of the Death and Burial; and two days later, on 'the third day' of the Bible phraseology, that is on Easter Sunday, as the story of the Resurrection was chanted by the choir, the cross was uncovered and replaced, amid the rejoicings of the congregation.

Next, and before the Norman Conquest, the Gospel dialog between the angel and the three Marys at the tomb of Christ came sometimes to be chanted by the choir in those responses which are called "tropes": Whom seek ye in the sepulcher, O Christians? Jesus of Nazareth the crucified, O angel.

He is not here; he has arisen as he said. Go, announce that he has risen from the sepulcher. One priest dressed in white robes sat, to represent the angel, by one of the square-built tombs near the junction of nave and transept, and three others, personating the Marys, advanced slowly toward him while they chanted their portion of the same dialog.

As the last momentous words of the angel died away a jubilant 'Te Deum' burst from, organ and choir, and every member of the congregation exulted, often with sobs, in the great triumph which brought salvation to every Christian soul.

Little by little, probably, as time passed, this Easter scene was further enlarged, in part by additions from the closing incidents of the Savior's life. A similar treatment, too, was being given to the Christmas scene, still more humanly beautiful, of his birth in the manger, and occasionally the two scenes might be taken from their regular places in the service, combined, and presented at any season of the year.

Other Biblical scenes, as well, came to be enacted, and, further, there were added stories from Christian tradition, such as that of Antichrist, and, on their particular days, the lives of Christian saints. Thus far these compositions are called Liturgical Plays, because they formed, in general, a part of the church service liturgy.

But as some of them were united into extended groups and as the interest of the congregation deepened, the churches began to seem too small and inconvenient, the excited audiences forgot the proper reverence, and the performances were transferred to the churchyard, and then, when the gravestones proved troublesome, to the market place, the village-green, or any convenient field.

By this time the people had ceased to be patient with the unintelligible Latin, and it was replaced at first, perhaps, and in part, by French, but finally by English; though probably verse was always retained as more appropriate than prose to the sacred subjects.

Then, the religious spirit yielding inevitably in part to that of merrymaking, minstrels and mountebanks began to flock to the celebrations; and regular fairs, even, grew up about them. Gradually, too, the priests lost their hold even on the plays themselves; skilful actors from among the laymen began to take many of the parts; and at last in some towns the trade-guilds, or unions of the various handicrafts, which had secured control of the town governments, assumed entire charge.

These changes, very slowly creeping in, one by one, had come about in most places by the beginning of the fourteenth century. In a new impetus was given to the whole ceremony by the establishment of the late spring festival of Corpus Christi, a celebration of the doctrine of transubstantiation.

On this occasion, or sometimes on some other festival, it became customary for the guilds to present an extended series of the plays, a series which together contained the essential substance of the Christian story, and therefore of the Christian faith.The Origins of English Drama.

§ 9. Liturgical Drama.

The origins of english drama

The history of the religious drama in England, if in it be included a survey of the adjuncts to the church liturgy in the form of alternating song and visible action, goes back to a period before the Norman conquest. Drama was introduced to England from Europe by the Romans, and auditoriums were constructed across the country for this purpose.

Origins of English Drama 1. The origins of English Drama 2. Pagan origins Fertility rites mainly based on nature cycles: i.e.

seasons MAY POLE 3. Interest of the Church in pagan celebrations From celebrations of spring to celebration of Easter 4. History Of English Drama Drama is a literary composition, which is performed by professional actors on stage (or theatre), before an audience.

It involves conflicts, actions and a particular theme. A new Dragon Age comic series will be released in October On June 29, , Dark Horse Comics announced that the creative team behind Dragon Age: Knight Errant would return for the three-part Drago.

Read more >. The English Renaissance, a cultural and artistic movement in England from 16th to early 17th century. It paved the way for the dominance of drama in the country. Queen Elizabeth I ruled during the period Great poetry and drama were produced.5/5(41).

English drama - Wikipedia