The Staging of Twelfth-Century Liturgical Drama in the Fleury Playbook


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

In what sense do the ten plays of the so-called Fleury Playbook employ a common theatrical tradition of staging and presentation? Do they share, among themselves and with other twelfth-century church dramas at Beauvais and elsewhere, certain assumptions about the architectural church interior as stage space, or is their approach to staging the haphazard result of varying sources and redactions?1 Did the Benedictine brethren who mounted these plays have in mind a common method of dramaturgy for their productions? What conventions of presentation can be adduced from regarding the Fleury play texts collectively as scripts indicative of theatrical performance? Through what sort of figurative language do gesture and stage movement convey meaning? These are the questions I should like to pursue here, much as Bernard Beckerman, John Styan, Ann Slater, and others have recently looked at Shakespeare's play texts as primary indications. of how the plays were performed.2 The method of analysis is a fairly recent one, even for Elizabethan and Jacobean drama,3 and has been applied only seldom to medieval church drama.4 The clear advantage of doing so is that play texts and their stage directions or rubrics in any age both explicitly and implicitly contain vital information about staging not always reliably available through iconographical or other external sources.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.