MRDS Newsletter: Early European Drama in Translation Spring 2003
Early European Drama in Translation Spring 2003
Early European Drama in Translation
Runnalls, Graham, trans. Judith and Holofernes: A Late Fifteenth-Century Mystery Play
Judith and Holofernes is a 2500-line independent section of a vast cycle of Old Testament plays, the French Mistere du Viel Testament. The story relates how an inexperienced and respectable woman succeeds, through a cunningly devised trick, in murdering a lubricious and powerful man. But into this tale of sex and homicide are interwoven a number of serious themes, such as the nature of war, the importance of prayer, and the rle of women. Leavening all this are the comic elements--e.g., boastful soldiers, the sarcasm of a frustrated eunuch. The action is played out against a background of several spectacular battle-scenes.
Stephen K. Wright, trans. Medieval German Drama: Four Plays in Translation: The Innsbruck (Thuringian) Easter Play; The Innsbruck (Thuringian) Corpus Christi Play; The Muhlhausen Play of St. Catherine; The Play of Lady Jutta (FORTHCOMING)
These plays all deserve to be much better known. Noteworthy artistic achievements in their own right, these plays stand as striking examples of four of the most distinctive genres of early European drama. The Easter Play is a surprisingly eclectic composition that combines equal measures of devout piety, social satire, and sheer knockabout comedy. The Corpus Christi Play preserves dialogue and stage directions for a spectacular processional, rich in musical settings and visual symbolism, honoring the Corpus Christi feast. While the martyr play, St. Catherine, aiming to inspire acts of moral courage in daily life, revels in stunning and sometimes gruesome special effects, the Play of Lady Jutta, a miracle play, traces the rise and fall of a legendary female imposter (better known as Pope Joan) who consorts with the devil in order to ascend to the papacy. Taken together, these four works offer modern readers a glimpse of the wide variety of theatrical experiences available to late medieval audiences.
Available at: www.pegpress.org