Performers and Performance in the Earliest Serious Secular Plays in the Netherlands


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

The literature of the Netherlands is as rich in sixteenth century manuscripts of plays and printed plays (approximately six hundred are extant) as it is poor in fifteenth-century play texts (approximately twenty). Of the latter group of texts about half are contained in the so-called Hulthem manuscript dating from 1405-10; these ten plays, however, may be assumed to have originated in the fourteenth century and hence are in fact the earliest vernacular plays that have come down to us in the Netherlands. However, the small number of extant early plays is compensated for by the high quality of the texts. Moreover, this group. of ten plays occupies a special place in the dramatic literature of Western Europe, for along with l'Estoire de Griseldis (c.1395) it includes the earliest serious secular plays and, aside from Le Garfon et l'aveugle (c.1282), the oldest known farces in the vernacular.1 In the present article I intend to show that this special position also includes the performance of the plays by masked professional actors on a stage with a tiring house that has at least two entrances to the front stage.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.