York Mystery Plays

The Fall of Man, York Mystery Cycle (Play 5) College


3rd April 2014

© Visalini S.

Do not re-print without express permission from the author.

The Fall of Man

York Mystery Cycle (Play 5)

Medieval Theatre Conventions

Language and Staging

The Fall of Man was traditionally performed as part of a larger series of plays known as The York Mystery Cycle. The Mystery Plays were a great medieval tradition and they were primarily used to bring religious messages to the commonfolk of York in the form of a religious festival. These plays were written in vernacular, usually having been translated from Latin, to allow for the easy understanding of illiterate audiences of the time. The most unique feature of these plays was the way they were staged. All the 47 plays in the York Cycle would have been performed on their own individual, moveable pageant wagons. These wagons would move processionally to each designated stop of the cycle (for example, in front of churches or marketplaces) and the plays would be performed. In short, the play would move toward the audience, unlike many of the stationary fixed-set morality plays of the time.

John Wesley Harris, author of Medieval Theatre in Context: An Introduction, introduces the structure of the pageant wagons as something the...

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