Article Title

"Towneley Plays" or "Wakefield Cycle" Revisited


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

During the last decade, the traditional picture of English medieval drama has been unsettled by the systematic collection of dramatic records and relevant ecclesiastical art, by modern performances, and by exceptionally open and generous scholarly discussion. That traditional picture saw English medieval drama governed by the great Corpus Christi cycles,. civic guild productions of a Creation to Doom biblical history performed processionally during the Corpus Christi festival some two months after Easter.1 Such a tidy picture of the norm is not supported by the dramatic records surveyed to date: of some 630 plays or games with known titles or subjects-not including London professional productions-performed prior to 1642, at most some dozen could be considered "cycles."2 Further work on the records no doubt will alter these numbers, which of course are only the extant fraction of a lost whole, but the sample clearly implies that "cycles" are a rare, peculiar phenomenon when measured against the preponderance of other dramatic activity.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.