Acting history Liturgical drama

When looking at the acting history liturgical drama has been a form of acting during very important period.A liturgical drama is a term describing a play acted in or near a church during the Middle Ages and probably derives from the 10th century and a tradition which involved the Easter mass being performed as a small scene during church services. Gradually, the plays increased in length and biblical plays began to flourish during the 12th and 13th centuries. Consisting mainly of Latin dialogue (which many of the English and French speaking people would not have fully understood), the words were often chanted to simple melodies. Liturgical dramas continued to be written well into the 16th century until their association with churches brought them into disrepute. The plays were given secular sponsorship and acted in the vernacular.

Mystery plays

Religious drama first appeared throughout the fifteenth century in the form of mystery plays. Originally, the church had forbidden existing pagan drama as 'immoral'. Once this form had disappeared, the church introduced its own 'moral' drama. During religious festivals and feasts, such as Easter and Christmas, the service was interrupted by the priests and religious persons representing the religious event which was being celebrated. Originally, dramatic text was taken directly from the Gospel or Office of the day and consisted of Latin prose. Diversification, however, soon arose with plays quickly changing to lose their liturgical aspect but keep their religious aspects in place. Before long, prose became rare and verse began to make up the bulk of the drama and the vernacular began to appear alongside Latin. Eventually, French and English soon took over and Latin had virtually disappeared from liturgical drama. It was because of this influence of the church on acting history liturgical drama kept on changing but never got lost.

Morality plays.

A new popular form we saw in acting history liturgical drama performed in the Middle Ages was that of the morality play. These plays represented a real or fictitious account of the life, miracles or martyrdom of a saint. This form of drama evolved from the original liturgical dramas and by the 13th century the plays were entirely separated from the church and were performed at public festivals by tradesmen and other assorted amateur actors. And thus we found in actinghistory liturgical drama to be brought back to its origin, drama with a message, like the ancient Greek plays.

Vernacular drama.

As any form of drama in this period of acting history liturgical drama evolved. As the Mystery plays also began to emerge as the vernacular drama of the Middle Ages and represented biblical subjects whilst remaining accessible. In addition, apocryphal and satirical elements were added in order to distance the productions from the church itself. This genre of liturgical drama had declined by the start of the 17th century.

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