the beginning of the drama


Drama in England, as in other European countries had a religious origin. e liturgy of the mass is an The The liturgy of the mass is an evocation of the Passion of Christ in dialogical form evocation of the
and so it lends itself to dramatic development. The first and most important forms of drama were the Mystery Plays and the Miracle Plays, later followed by the Morality Plays, which enjoyed great favour from the 13th to the 16th century and were attended by many common people. The language used was at first Latin, which was in time exchanged for the vernacular, so that everybody could understand what the plays were about. At the beginning they were performed in the church courtyards and later on pageants (carriages or platforms on wheels which could move from place to place).
Mystery and Morality plays did not disappear in England in the Renaissance with the birth of new models inspired by the classics. These latter seemed at first to prevail at Court with the plays of the University Wits, a group of Elizabethan playwrights and pamphleteers who had received a university education. An outstanding figure was J. Lyly who first used prose on the stage. But then drama developed along quite different lines and thanks to the Court the popular theatre survived and spread. In fact the chief winter past time of the Court was the theatre and a special office, the Revels Office, was appointed to superintend musical, allegorical and farcical entertainments (for example masques and interludes); in this way public companies of players were enlisted for Court performances, as they were cheaper than companies reserved for the Court only. All kinds of plays were performed during the Renaissance, many of them based on earlier stories and legends. The English theatre drew its inspiration mainly from the Greek and Roman theatre, from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte and from the works of N. Macchiavelli.
Man’s vices and corruption, his capability to suffer, endure and also to enjoy himself were a model for the playwrights of the time.
The Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre was the first professional theatre in England, in the modern sense, performing in purpose built theatres to a paying audience, and with actors who made their living from their job. The playwrights wrote in poetry, and they seldom respected the Aristotelian unities of time, place and action. Women were not permitted to act and female roles were taken by boys specially trained for this task. Great actors were acclaimed by the audiences, among them stands R. Burbage who was the first player of a number of Shakespeare’s heroes.
The Renaissance tragedy reached its true greatness with Ch. Marlowe, whose plays, written in blank verse, gave powerful expression to the revaluation of the human potentialities of the new man of the Renaissance (Dr. Faustus). Some plays (e.g. Tamburlaine the Great) started the tradition of the chronicle plays. W. Shakespeare’s early histories are strongly influenced by Marlowe, though his later entire production is outside every type of classification for the variety of its characters, both comical and serious, which offer a unique picture of the human nature.
The proper Renaissance comedy ranged from the romantic comedies by Shakespeare, to more realistic plays of low life (T. Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday), to the comedy of humours (e.g. B. Jonson’s Everyman in his Humour and Volpone).

The tradition of telling stories in the Middle Ages brought to the birth of the drama.
At first the drama was practiced in the church during the mass. The mass is a sort of dialogue between the priest and his people and some parts of the Gospels, at that time, were acted on particular festivities like Christmas, Easter, Corpus Christi.
The original and most important forms of drama were the mystery plays (1200 -1500)and the miracle plays. The former were Bible stories in Latin from the Creation to the Second Coming (Doomsday), the latter usually dealt with the lives and martyrdom of the Saints. They were both spoken in Latin and were, at first, performed inside the church in front of the altar, then they moved outside the church, in the courtyard and ultimately on carriages or platforms on wheels, which could move from place to place, the pageants.
Little by little Latin was replaced by vernacular and more humorous details taken from daily life were added to amuse the audiences that had little or no education.
The third important type of medieval drama were the morality plays ( typical of 1400), dramatized allegories, in which the characters were human features , virtues and vices. The most important of this type of plays was Everyman, centered on man and on the salvation of his soul.
Afterwards the morality plays developed into the interludes, short plays or incidental entertainments, usually performed in the middle of a feast. The characters were still frequently allegorical, but the comical, farcical element was more prevalent and the versification was less academic. The most famous and enjoyable of interludes are The Play of the Wether by J. Heywood, printed in 1533, in which Jupiter tries to please all the contradictory wishes of mankind.

At first the drama was practiced in the church during the mass. The mass is a sort of dialogue between the priest and his people and some parts of the Gospels, at that time,  were acted on particular festivities  like Christmas, Easter, Corpus Christi.

The original and most important forms of drama were the mystery plays (1200 -1500)and the miracle plays. The former  were Bible stories in Latin from the Creation to the Second Coming (Doomsday), the latter usually dealt with the lives and martyrdom of the Saints. They were both spoken in Latin and were, at first, performed inside the church in front of the altar, then they moved outside the church, in the courtyard and ultimately on carriages or platforms on wheels, which could move from place to place, the pageants.

Little by little Latin was replaced by vernacular and more humorous details taken from daily life were added to amuse the audiences that had little or no education.

The third important type of medieval drama were the morality plays ( typical of 1400), dramatized allegories, in which the characters were  human features , virtues and vices. The most important of this type of plays was Everyman,  centered on man and on the salvation of his soul.

Afterwards the morality plays developed into the interludes, short plays or incidental entertainments, usually performed in the middle of a feast. The characters were still frequently allegorical, but the comical, farcical element was more prevalent and the versification was less academic. The most famous and enjoyable of interludes are The Play of the Wether  by J. Heywood, printed in 1533, in which Jupiter tries to please all the contradictory wishes of mankind.

The staging of the plays was committed to the guilds (associations of artisans and merchants) and the towns where the guilds were powerful became very famous for this kind of show, in particular Chester, Coventry, Wakefield and York.

 

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