8 manuscripts of the Chester Whitsun plays are extant, with 5 being relatively complete. Unlike our surviving versions of other mystery plays, our complete versions of Chester were copied substantially after the final production of 1575. One lone version was copied, rather hastily, with errors and cross-outs, in 1604 by William Bedford, a clerk of St Peters who also took on other work. Why the interest in plays which had long since ceased to be performed? It will not do to describe Bedford’s manuscript as simply a ‘personal copy’. The paper will show that he was not making a production text, but was rather part of an antiquarian movement in Chester and beyond, with the possibility of contributing to the libraries and/or collections of noble families arising at the time.
Where lies the border between authenticity and performance? Jean Rotrou’s Le Véritable Saint Genest (1643) addresses the on-stage conversion to Christianity of the celebrated third-century Roman actor-turned-saint. The play explores important borders: the separation (or unification) of actor and character, and the inherent vocation (or lack thereof) of the ‘comédien’; the boundaries of the self and the creating of self; the physical boundaries of stage and backstage, which take on a specular meaning in this play-within-a-play; and, finally the border between life and death, fundamental for hagiographic protagonists. This paper will address the multiplicity of delimitations in the 17th-century French hagiographic play to demonstrate how it creates a dialectic on the nature of theater and performance.
Pageantry was an aspect of medieval drama when trade guilds took theatre to the streets. This involved many people and took many days to perform. There are some similarities between this theatre and contemporary carnivals in many parts of the world. The similarities include parades and flamboyancy such as spectacular displays and colourful costumes. These two theatre types provided and provides amusement and entertainment for the different societies as well as education (particularly moral for the medieval society) and enhancement of members unity. Medieval drama certainly has many lessons for the progress of the society even in contemporary times.