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The Dark Ages

500 CE- 1500 CE

Liturgical drama

Developed from tropes, earliest trope known Quam Quaertitis, part of the service of Catholic mass


Embellishments sung as part of mass

Quam Quaertitis

"Whom seek ye?"; asked by the angel to the three Marys as the approach Christ's tomb


Small stage areas or platforms; became important as plays shift from religion and churches to drama and cities, set up for each individual play in a cycle

Miracle plays

Dramatized miracles performed by the saints

Mystery plays

Dramatized the mystery of Christ's passion, performed during Corpus Christi, could portray Biblical events all the way to Eden and beyond. Example: The Second Shepherd's Play

Morality plays

Used religious characters and themes to teach a moral lesson. Used allegory.


Stringing together of mystery and miracle plays. Example: The Wakefield Cycle


Producers of plays

Pageant wagons

Portable carriers of plays from town to town; may have been funded by guild producers

Hell mouth

Audience favorite in a series of mansions; depicted the entrance to Hell with smoke and fireworks


Part usually reserved for the most seasoned actor

Decline in Religious Theater

1. Weakening of the church, resulting in Protestant Reformation
2. Shift from religious to secular dramatic material

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