New Evidence: Vives and Audience-Response to Biblical Drama

Sarah Carpenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There are almost no contemporary accounts of audience response to early theatre. A valuable but largely forgotten piece of evidence appears in the commentary by Vives, first published in 1522, on Book 8 chapter 27 of St Augustine’s City of God. He compares Roman shows in honour of the gods or of the dead to contemporary Passion Plays, presumably in Leuven. He is suspicious of popular biblical drama and what he sees as the audience’s uncomprehending emotional reactions to it. For us the interest lies in his report of the unexpectedly noisy and engaged audience participation, especially with laughter, which seems more characteristic of modern popular rather than ‘serious’ theatre.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-12
Number of pages9
JournalMedieval English Theatre
Volume31
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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