Volume Forty-One (2019): Summaries

Meg Twycross

The Sun in York (Part Two): Illumination, Reflection, and Timekeeping for the Corpus Christi Play
METh 41 (2019) 4-57.


Continues the investigation on the use of ‘stage lighting’ for certain special effects in the York Corpus Christi Play, this time with an emphasis on the position of the sun at different times of day along the Play route. (Since the Julian Calendar had not yet been replaced by the Gregorian Calendar, the available days for the celebration were more evenly spaced on either side of the summer solstice.) This naturally involves a consideration of the timing of the event, especially of the Corpus Christi Procession which immediately proceeded the Play and was its original occasion. This then leads to the question, ‘How did they know what time it was?’ Experience of performing the waggon plays along part of the original route suggests that conditions were not always ideal. The summing-up suggests that the organisation of the Play was always reactive rather than proactive. An Appendix sets out the evidence for the bearing of the Corpus Christi torches, and the content of the procession.

E. Lucy Deacon

‘Remembering through Re-Enacting: Revisiting the Emergence of the Iranian Ta‘zia Tradition.’
METh 41 (2019) 58-83.


Ta‘zia is a Shi‘i form of devotional theatre centering around commemoration of the martyrdom of Hosayn ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Taleb and seventy-two of his companions on the plain of Karbala in the Islamic month of Moharram in the year AD 680. Until recently the tradition was thought to have emerged around the mid-eighteenth century AD yet recently discovered evidence, in the form of a handful of scripts, suggests it to be much older. Inspired by this discovery, this article revisits the origins of the ta‘zia in its Iranian context. It searches for seeds of the early tradition amongst the diverse array of Moharram performative rituals described in the memoires of visitors to Iran during the sixteenth, seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries AD. Consequently it argues for the influence of a factor in ta‘zia’s emergence that until now has not been subject to scholarly attention, the staging of re-enactments of the battle of Karbala amongst the masses.

Mark Chambers and Gašper Jakovac

‘Welcoming James the VI & I in the North-East: Civic Performance and Conflict in Durham and Newcastle.ֹ
METh 41 (2019) 84-133.


King James VI and I visited the cities and towns of the ‘North-East’ of England only twice during his long reign: in 1603, on his way south to be crowned at Westminster, and again during his royal progress to Scotland in 1617. The article focuses on a wide array of surviving records and original documents of King James’s visit to Durham and Newcastle in 1617, discussing how the two north-eastern cities attempted to court royal favour and to solicit relief for local grievances through civic performance and the artistry of royal welcome.

Ernst Gerhard

‘Salmon-Fishing and Beer-Brewing: The Waterleaders and Drawers of Dee and Chester’s Corpus Christi and Whitsun Play.’
METh 41 (2019) 134-165.




Philip Butterworth

‘Jetties, Pentices, Purprestures, and Ordure: Obstacles to Pageants and Processions in London.’
METh 41 (2019) 166-190.


The streets of London were not the perfectly natural venues for pageants, processions and Royal Entries between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. As sites, they were poorly adapted to their occasional celebratory use. Covered with a mixture of paved and unpaved surfaces, soil, gravel, stones, domestic waste, trade waste, mud and dung they created poor conditions. Added to the problems under foot were the illegal and indiscriminate encroachments of buildings from the natural building line towards the middle of the streets. Local officials grappled with these unending difficulties only to be thwarted by their constant repetition. The purpose of this article is to establish the nature of street conditions and their preparation for the execution of pageants and processions.

Elisabeth Dutton & Perry Mills

‘Staging John Redford's Wit and Science in 2019.’
METh 41 (2019) 191-208.


This article reflects on the 2019 production of Redford’s Wit and Science by Edward’s Boys (directed and produced by the authors), a production which foregrounded the schoolroom setting in which the original Tudor production also had its roots. The article considers Redford’s skilful manipulation of allegorical levels, which allows the schoolboy actor to play the ‘character’ in the story and bring the allegorical narrative alive, while leaving interpretive allegoresis to the audience.

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© Meg Twycross 2019