Simon Bening Triptych of St Jerome (1550), detail. Spain: Escorial Monastery. Property of Patrimonio Nacional.

Saturday 27 March 2021






Hosted by Clare Egan from the University of Lancaster.


Full printable version (pdf)

Primarily, aspects of early theatre such as performance location, playing space, and play world settings are understood in relation to human experience, but considering the environments of early drama also makes space for thinking about animals, plants, and the natural world, particularly as impacted by human activity, in early performance studies. With the growing urgency of environmental crisis and a global pandemic forcing us to re-evaluate our immediate environments, are we due a closer look at the environments of early theatre? This conference seeks to bring such new perspectives to bear on medieval drama by asking how past experiences in and representations of the environment might inform current environmental debates. The conference also aims to explore the ways in which paying attention to environmental factors can produce new understandings of early performance and the medieval world.

Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • Natural and artificial environments for performance; environmental factors affecting performance from disruptive elements to affirmations of a play’s content.
  • Representations of natural or built environments in the play-world; for example, wildernesses, forests or fields and cities, streets or houses; imaginary environments; depictions of human/non-human relationships on stage.
  • Representations of the weather, natural disasters, the atmosphere, alchemy, astronomy or astrology in early theatre.
  • Environmental problems in early theatre, such as deforestation, enclosure, dearth and so on; ecocritical approaches; sustainability; conservation; the pastoral in early drama.
  • Site-specific performance and practice-based research; material traces of early drama; archaeological evidence.
  • Digital environments for early texts and modern performance; manuscript environments including the space and material of the page, as well as material conditions for manuscript production, consumption and storage.
  • Critical environments; inclusivity, diversity and equality; global and international environments for early drama.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers from scholars at any stage of study or career; we very much welcome ‘work in progress’ papers or proposals for discussion-based sessions, especially in the current context. Please submit your proposals by 10 February 2021 to Clare Egan at If you would like to discuss ideas for work in progress or alternative session formats, please feel free to get in touch via email prior to submitting a proposal.



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© Meg Twycross 2021