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Saturday, 12 April 2014

Christian Drama

With the rise of Christianity in Europe acting was forbidden, and had virtually ended by the 6th century.

After many hundreds of years where the church has banned all dramas the priests begin to use small playlets to teach an uneducated people Bible stories. One of the first of these playlets was acted out by the priests at Easter. It had only three Latin lines which are translated as:
“Whom do you seek in the sepulchre?
Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified, O heavenly one!
He is not there, he has risen, as he said.
Go, announce that he has risen from the sepulchre.”

In 1210, suspicious of the growing popularity of miracle plays, Pope Innocent III issued a papal edict forbidding clergy from acting on a public stage. This had the effect of transferring the organization of the dramas to town guilds.

Mystery plays, popular dramatic representation of scenes from the Old and New Testaments were performed in many towns across Europe from the 13th to the 16th centuries. They developed gradually from aspects of the Easter Mass in Latin into civic occasions in the local languages, usually enacted on Corpus Christi, a holy feast day from 1311.

Several English towns had 'cycles' of mystery plays, in which wagons stopping at different points in the town were used as stages for the various episodes, each presented by a trade guild (then known as a 'mystery'). A full cycle, like the forty-eight plays enacted at York, would represent the entire pattern of Christian redemption from the Creation to Doomsday

In 1581 Elizabeth I  of England completely prohibited the mystery cycle plays. Later there was a ban on any kind of scriptural or biblical drama, which lasted until 1912.

Source The Oxford Interactive Encyclopedia. Developed by The Learning Company, Inc. Copyright (c) 1997 TLC Properties Inc.

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