Volume Thirty-Nine (2017): Summaries

Philip Butterworth

Pageant Carriage Maintenance at Chester
METh 39 (2017) 5-34.


This article examines the means of maintaining the Coopers' and Smiths' pageant carriages at Chester. Carriage wheels consisting of hubs, spokes, felloes and strakes required attention after long periods of inactivity in order to maintain their strength and fitness for purpose. The ways of turning the carriages, without turning-trains, is considered in relation to analogous practice. The article also submits a case to discount the previously considered interpretation of David Rogers' contradictory account that the carriages consisted of six wheels.


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Tom Pettitt

Carnevale in Norwich, 1443: Gladman’s Parade and its Continental Connections
METh 39 (2017) 35-76.


Evidence for carnival pageantry in late-medieval England is dominated by the celebrated account of events in Norwich in early 1443. Sources agree that John Gladman, wearing a crown, led a spectacular parade through the streets of the city, but while a hostile faction asserted this was an insurrectionary demonstration, the City explained it was a widespread Shrovetide custom marking the end of the Christmas season. Examination of the documents suggests that this exculpatory narrative had only tenuous links to what really happened. Meanwhile the custom invoked is better understood if the perspective is shifted from the literary and pictorial topos of the combat of Carnival and Lent to parades representing the sequence of the months.


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James Stokes

The Beccles Game Place and Local Drama in Early North-East Suffolk
METh 39 (2017) 77-102.


Early East Anglia, especially Suffolk, had a far greater number of dedicated outdoor recreational sites than any other region of the Kingdom, together with a copiously recorded tradition of parish drama. The Waveney River Valley in north-east Suffolk is particularly rich in both playing places and dramatic records. This paper studies the playing tradition and game place in Beccles, a port town on the Waveney River; places it in its larger context of drama and playing places in that part of the county; examines the meaning of game place in Suffolk; and suggests the need for more study of game places, parish dramatic records, and surviving play-texts in relation to each other as a proposed next step in the study of East Anglian drama.


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Jamie Beckett

Pendens super feretrum: Fergus, Aelred, and the York ‘Funeral of the Virgin’
METh 39 (2017) 103-125.


The pageant of the ‘Funeral of the Virgin’ in the York Cycle is infamous for having roused ‘quarrels, disagreements and fights’ on the streets. Yet the content of the performance as well as its alternate title, ‘Fergus’, have remained enigmatic. This article suggests that rather than representing a generalised Scottish enemy, the name of the antagonist at the heart of the pageant actually makes reference to Fergus of Galloway, a controversial historic adversary of the city and its surrounding region. Considering the localised appropriation and utility of such biblical or devotional drama, this article argues for the likely influence of twelfth-century historical narratives on fifteenth-century performances. It also speculates on possible reasons for the fractious response the pageant received from spectators in fifteenth-century York.


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George Gascoigne at Oxford
METh 39 (2017) 126-140.


George Gascoigne’s Supposes, translated from Ariosto’s erudite comedy, is unique as a contemporaneous vernacular play performed at two different early modern academic environments: it was staged at both the Inns of Court (Gray’s Inn, 1566) and at Oxford University (Trinity College, 1582). In considering why the play might have appealed to Trinity, I demonstrate how it relies upon a recognition of a saturation of allusions to classical comedy, with which an early modern audience at Oxford would have been familiar. I conclude with the irony that the original audience might not have been so well equipped.


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Diana Wyatt

Elizabeth Nevile’s Wedding Entertainments: A Yorkshire Family Celebration in 1526 and its Contexts
METh 39 (2017) 141-157.


A modest little booklet among the Strickland-Constable family papers in the East Riding Archives and Local Studies is catalogued as ‘Sir John Nevile’s memoranda book. 1595’. Among this miscellany of family notes and genealogy, evidently copied by Sir John’s great-grandson, one intriguing entry notes the performance during Elizabeth Nevile’s wedding celebrations in January 1526 of ‘ffirst a play, and, streight after the play, a maske...’ The record raises interesting questions about the terms play and maske in this context of private celebration in the 1520s, and this article examines the document in the various contexts of sixteenth-century cultural practice and terminology to reach a fuller understanding of the event recorded.


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Peter Happé

Herod’s Killing of the Children in New College Chapel Oxford, 8 February 2017 (review)
METh 39 (2017) 158-159.


This review of a performance of The Killing of the Children from the Digby manuscript drew attention to the binary effects of this rather confusing text. It presents a number of opposed contrasts, including worship and barbarity. The effects upon the audience/congregation are considered in spite of the cultural distance between medieval and modern awareness. The performance, directed by Elisabeth Dutton, involved memory and anticipation as links between the Nativity and the Crucifixion were explored theatrically. Though the text has its ambiguities it is apparent that this emotional play had much of interest, particularly as it draws upon medieval dramatic conventions.


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