Theatre in the Round: The Staging of Cornish Medieval Drama

Theatre in the Round: The Staging of Cornish Medieval Drama

by Sydney Higgins


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The important and rich collection of medieval plays from Cornwall has, in the past, been all but ignored by the majority of drama historians and critics. In this book, Sydney Higgins shows why this is a mistaken and ill-informed view.
The oldest of the three surviving manuscripts is the Cornish Cycle - performed on three consecutive days - that is probably the earliest surviving British drama script. Next is 'Buenans Meriasek' ('The Life of St. Meriasek') that is the only full-length medieval saint's play to have survived in the literature of Great Britain. The last of the three, 'The Creation of the World' is the first day of another Biblical play.
In the manuscript of the Cornish Cycle, there is a plan of the theatre for each of the three days and there are two similar ones in 'St. Meriasek'. Apart from these five, the only other other plan of a British medieval theatre that has survived is of 'The Castle of Perseverance'. Like those for the Cornish plays, it is circular.
Among the many important conclusions in the detailed and meticulously researched examination of the staging of the Cornish plays is that the medieval circular theatres are far more likely to have been the inspiration for the circular theatres of Shakespeare's age than the highly unlikely notion that their origin arose from a pageant waggon being parked in a rectangular inn yard.

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Winner of the 2014 HOLYER AN GOF PUBLISHERS' AWARD for Non-Fiction - History, Language and Creative Arts.

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This reviewer found of particular interest Sydney Higgins's lucid reconstruction of the playing in the round.
'Theatre Research International'. vol. 26, no. 1, p.117

Insightful scrutiny of staging ... a full and detailed analysis.
'European Medieval Drama - 2', Brepols, p.200.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781484947050
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 10/31/2013
Pages: 194
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.41(d)

About the Author

Sydney Higgins was the founder and organizer of the four International European Medieval Drama conferences and festivals that took place in Camerino, Italy, from 1996-1999. He was the editor of the first three volumes of 'European Medieval Drama' published by Brepols.
Since 1992, he has taught at the University of Camerino. He is also the founder and director of the theatre company, The Camerino Players, that has presented a wide range of productions including musicals (e.g. 'Cabaret' and the first ever Italian version of 'Sweet Charity'), drama (e.g. 'The Crucible' and 'Krapp's Last Tape' - in both English and Italian), medieval drama (e.g. the Wakefield/Towneley Cycle) and plays specially written for children (e.g. 'The Clown' and 'Let It Be You'). He has also written the story and libretto of several musicals. For the contribution this made to the cultural life of the city, he was made the Camerino Citizen of the Year for 1999.
For all his professional life, he has been involved in the theatre. He has been a teacher of drama, opened a new theatre in Uganda and, prior to moving to Italy, was the Senior Adviser for English and Drama in Suffolk.
Both he and his wife are also successful writers. His many publications include the biographies 'Rider Haggard: The Great Storyteller' and 'The Benn Inheritance: The Story of a Radical Family'. His educational books include the best-selling series 'Aspects of English'. He has also ghosted many books, including 'Stroll On' for Tony Booth, 'Piper Alpha: A Survivor's Story' for Ed Punchard, 'Nicola: A Second Chance to Live' for Nicola Owen, and the 'Pirelli Album of Motor Racing Heroes' for John Surtees. He and his wife, Antoinette, have also written many textbooks and also two guidebooks entitled 'Staying in the Châteaux Hotels of Eastern and Western France'.
His special interest, however, has always been medieval drama and he started and maintains the Internet sites, 'Medieval Drama Links' and the 'Bibliography of Cornish Medieval Drama'.

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