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  • Carol Symes


Soon after he was consecrated bishop in 963, Æthelwold of Winchester (909–84) began to promulgate a series of new rules for worship and religious life in the monasteries of England. In one passage that is well known to theatre historians, Æthelwold insisted on the following performance of the Easter morning liturgy.

While the third lesson is being read aloud, four of the brothers should dress themselves. One of them, wearing an alb, should come in as though intent on other business and go stealthily to the place of the sepulchre, and there he should sit quietly…. The three remaining brothers … should make their way slowly and haltingly, coming before the place of the sepulchre as if they are seeking something. For these things are done in imitation of the angel seated on the tomb and of the women coming with perfumes to anoint the body of Jesus. When, therefore, the one sitting there sees the three drawing near, who are still wandering about as though seeking something, he should begin to sing sweetly, in a moderate voice: “Whom do you seek?”


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1. Kornexl, Lucia, ed., Die “Regularis Concordia” und ihre altenglische Interlinearversion (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 1993), §51, emphasis added. On the musical and codicological contexts of the Quem quæritis trope, see Michel Huglo, “Remarks on the Alleluia and Responsory Series in the Winchester Troper,” and Rankin, Susan, “Winchester Polyphony: The Early Theory and Practice of Organum,” both in Music in the Medieval English Liturgy: Plainsong and Mediaeval Music Society Centennial Essays, ed. Rankin, Susan and Hiley, David (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 4758 and 58–99, respectively. On the possible sources and patterns of transmission affecting its inscription, see Bjork, David A., “On the Dissemination of Quem quæritis and the Vistatio sepulchri and the Chronology of Their Early Sources,” Comparative Drama 14.1 (1980): 4669; and Rankin, Susan, “Musical and Ritual Aspects of Quem queritis,” in Liturgische Tropen: Referate zweier Colloquien des Corpus Troporum in München (1983) und Canterbury (1984), ed. Silagi, Gabriel (Munich: Arbeo-Gesellschaft, 1985), 181–92.

2. Chambers, E. K., The Mediaeval Stage, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1903), 2: 9–40; Young, Karl, The Drama of the Medieval Church, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), 1: 201–38. Despite the many critiques of Young's powerful paradigm, inaugurated by Hardison, O. B. Jr. in Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965), none of the attempts to set up alternative genealogies and models for medieval drama has had much impact on the grand narrative of European theatre history and the assumption of the Middle Ages’ relative dramatic impoverishment. For a recent overview of the problem, see Enders, Jody, “Medieval Stages,” Theatre Survey 50.2 (2009): 317–25. Enders's own work has been exemplary in its persistent and creative contributions to the methodological, theoretical, and ideological challenges facing scholars of medieval theatre history and medieval drama, beginning with Rhetoric and the Origins of Medieval Drama (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992). After Young, there have been further “systematic” attempts to count and categorize the Quem quæritis and its kindred artifacts, notably Helmut de Boor's Die Textgeschichte der lateinischen Osterfeiern (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 1967); and Lipphardt's, WalterLateinische Osterfeiern und Osterspiele, 6 vols. (Berlin and New York: De Gruyter, 197581). On the various—and deeply flawed—efforts to catalog and taxonomize the written remains of liturgical performance practices, most of which disregard music and performance altogether, see Hughes, Andrew, “Liturgical Drama: Falling between the Disciplines,” in The Theatre of Medieval Europe: New Research in Early Drama, ed. Simon, Eckehard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 4262. See also note 10 below.

3. As Rankin notes, “The Quem queritis survives in fifty-one notated sources datable before 1100, always with the same melodies for the first three sentences, and, in many of these, an essentially similar melody for the sentences that follow”; Rankin, “Musical and Ritual Aspects,” 190. By extension, the widespread dissemination of this dialogue means that in the many more nonnotated manuscripts, only the first few words are given as prompts—as they are in the Regularis Concordia, which precedes all of these later exemplars and thus proves that the question and its answer were already part of a long-standing, probably unscripted, performance tradition.

4. Noted by Tydeman, William in The Theatre in the Middle Ages: Western European Stage Conditions, c. 800–1576 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978), 126.

5. “Ludus prophetarum ordinatissimus”; de Lettis, Henricus, Chronicon Livoniæ, ed. Arbusow, Leonid and Bauer, Albert (Würzburg: Holzner, 1959), 44. For an analysis of this incident, see Symes, Carol, A Common Stage: Theater and Public Life in Medieval Arras (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007), 1213 (quotation on 12).

6. Blair, John, The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 351.

7. See Rademacher, Franz, Die Gustorfer Chorschranken: Das Hauptwerk der romanischen Kölner Plastik (Bonn: Rudolf Habelt Verlag, 1975), 1112, 19–21 and figs. 1, 5–7, 10. The misleading reproduction of a “bearded” Mary was disseminated in Tydeman, 37. This error has also been noted by V. A. Kolve in an important article on the contemporary uses and interpretations of liturgical dramas in masculine, monastic contexts: Ganymede/Son of Getron: Medieval Monasticism and the Drama of Same-Sex Desire,” Speculum 73.4 (1998): 1014–67, at 1055–6 and n106. On the challenges of using visual evidence for the reconstruction of performance practices, see (e.g.) Wiles, David, “Seeing Is Believing: The Historian's Use of Images,” in Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography, ed. Canning, Charlotte M. and Postlewait, Thomas (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2010), 215–39.

8. Blair, 354.

9. I discuss this problem in The Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays: Forms, Functions, and the Future of Medieval Theatre,” Speculum 77.3 (2002): 778831; and The History of Medieval Theatre/Theatre of Medieval History: Dramatic Documents and the Performance of the Past,” History Compass 7.3 (2009): 117.

10. Young's model still informs the editorial policies of the Records of Early English Drama (REED), according to Sally-Beth MacLean; see “Birthing the Concept: The First Nine Years,” in REED in Review: Essays in Celebration of the First Twenty-Five Years, ed. Douglas, Audrey and MacLean, Sally-Beth (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006), 3951, at 44. Two decades ago, Theresa Coletti called attention to “REED's fiction of its own neutrality,” pointing out that “though REED offers its methods and its findings as if they were self-evident, they are in fact underwritten by a powerful set of assumptions” and “have profound implications.” See Coletti, Theresa, “Reading REED: History and the Records of Early English Drama,” in Literary Practice and Social Change in Britain, 1380–1530, ed. Patterson, Lee (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 250 and 270. A similar critique has been voiced by Sponsler, Claire in “Writing the Unwritten: Morris Dance and the Study of Medieval Theatre,” Theatre Survey 38.1 (1997): 7395.

11. Donohue, John, “Evidence and Documentation,” in Interpreting the Theatrical Past: Essays in the Historiography of Performance, ed. Postlewait, Thomas and McConachie, Bruce A. (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1989), 177–97, at 178; see also Susan Bennett, “The Making of Theatre History,” in Representing the Past, ed. Canning and Postlewait, 63–83.

12. Johnston, Alexandra F., “What If No Texts Survived? External Evidence for Early English Drama,” in Contexts for Early English Drama, ed. Briscoe, Marianne G. and Coldewey, John C. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), 119, at 2 and 3.

13. Baker, Donald C., “When Is a Text a Play? Reflections on What Certain Dramatic Texts Can Tell Us,” in Contexts for Early English Drama, ed. Briscoe and Coldewey, , 2040, at 37.

14. Stern, Tiffany, Documents of Performance in Early Modern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 4.

15. Gurr, Andrew, “A New Theatre Historicism,” in From Script to Stage in Early Modern England, ed. Holland, Peter and Orgel, Stephen (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 7188, at 71.

16. E.g., Tedlock, Dennis, The Spoken Word and the Work of Interpretation (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983); Tedlock, Rabinal Achi: A Mayan Drama of War and Sacrifice (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); and Harris, Max, Carnival and Other Christian Festivals: Folk Theology and Folk Performance (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003).

17. Schechner, Richard, “Drama, Script, Theatre, and Performance,” in Schechner, Richard, Performance Theory, 2d rev. ed. (London: Routledge, 2003), 66111, at 69. See especially Taylor, Diana, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Chapel Hill, NC: Duke University Press, 2003).

18. Schechner, Richard, Performance Studies: An Introduction, 2d ed. (New York: Routledge, 2006), 1. The assembly and analysis of the archive is an important focus of the essays collected by Canning and Postlewait in Representing the Past.

19. Richards, Sandra L., “Writing the Absent Potential: Drama, Performance, and the Canon of African-American Literature,” in Performativity and Performance, ed. Parker, Andrew and Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky (New York and London: Routledge, 1995), 6488, at 65.

20. Ibid., 79.

21. Ibid.

22. Enders, Jody, Murder by Accident: Medieval Theatre, Modern Media, and Critical Intentions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 3, 12, 113–14.

23. Andrew Parker and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, “Introduction,” in Performativity and Performance, ed. Parker and Sedgwick, 1–18, at 2.

24. The same appears to be true of Mayan drama. See Tedlock, Rabinal Achi, 2 and 189.

25. Clanchy, M. T., From Memory to Written Record: England 1066–1307, 2d ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993).

26. Lord, Albert B., The Singer of Tales (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1960). For recent examples, see Yunis, Harvey, ed., Written Texts and the Rise of Literate Culture in Ancient Greece (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Amodio, Mark C., ed., New Directions in Oral Theory (Tempe: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2005); and Horsley, Richard A., ed., Oral Performance, Popular Tradition, and Hidden Transcript in Q (Leiden: Brill, for Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2006).

27. Nagy, Gregory, Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 110–12.

28. Havelock, Eric A., “The Oral Composition of Greek Drama” (1980), repr. in Havelock, The Literate Revolution in Greece and Its Cultural Consequences (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982), 261313, at 266.

29. Herington, John (C. J.), Poetry into Drama: Early Tragedy and the Greek Poetic Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985); Thomas, Rosalind, Oral Tradition and Written Record in Classical Athens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Nagy, Gregory, Homeric Questions (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996); Cerquiglini, Bernard, Éloge de la variante: Histoire critique de la philologie (Paris: Éditions de Seuil, 1989); Symes, Carol, “Manuscript Matrix, Modern Canon,” in Middle English, ed. Strohm, Paul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 722.

30. Aristotle, Poetics V, 1449a, 36–9. See also Aristotle, Poetics, trans. Stephen Halliwell (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), 44–5. On Aristotle's complex attitude toward orality, see Daniel F. Melia, “Orality and Aristotle's Aesthetics,” in New Directions in Oral Theory, ed. Amodio, 91–105.

31. Melia, 98.

32. Aristotle, Poetics VI, 1450b, 15–20; see also Aristotle, Poetics, trans. Halliwell, 53–5.

33. Symes, Carol, “The Tragedy of the Middle Ages,” in Beyond the Fifth Century: Interactions with Greek Tragedy from the Fourth Century B.C.E to the Middle Ages, ed. Gildenhard, Ingo and Revermann, Martin (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010), 335–69.

34. Zumthor, Paul, Essai de poétique médiévale (Paris: Éditions de Seuil, 1972), trans. Bennett, Philip as Toward a Medieval Poetics (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992); Zumthor, , La lettre et la voix: De la “littérature” médiévale (Paris: Éditions de Seuil, 1987); Zumthor, , Introduction à la poésie orale (Paris: Éditions de Seuil, 1990), trans. Murphy-Judy, Kathryn as Oral Poetry: An Introduction (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990).

35. Gurr, Andrew, The Shakespeare Company (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 120.

36. Stern, 245.

37. Gurr, Shakespeare Company, 123. See also Stern, 108–9.

38. It is surely significant that “Documents of Control” is the first section in volumes devoted to England or France (vols. 1, 5, 6) in the series Theatre in Europe: A Documentary History. See Thomas, David, ed., Restoration and Georgian England 1660–1788 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Howarth, William D. et al. , French Theatre in the Neo-Classical Era, 1550–1789 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997); and Wickham, Glynne, Berry, Herbert, and Ingram, William, eds., English Professional Theatre, 1530–1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

39. Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays”; and Symes, , “The Performance and Preservation of Medieval Latin Comedy,” European Medieval Drama 7 (2003): 2950.

40. Mankind, ed. Bevington, David, in Bevington, comp., Medieval Drama (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1975) [hereinafter, MD], 903–38 at vv. 459–66.

41. Treitler, Leo, “Reading and Singing: On the Genesis of Occidental Music-Writing,” Early Music History 4 (1984): 135208; James McKinnon, “The Emergence of Gregorian Chant in the Carolingian Era,” and Hiley, David, “Plainchant Transfigured: Innovation and Reformation through the Ages,” both in Antiquity and the Middle Ages: From Ancient Greece to the 15th Century, ed. McKinnon, James (Basingstoke and London: Macmillan, 1990), 88119 and 120–42, respectively; Levy, Kenneth, Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 513, 109–40.

42. In addition to the work of Zumthor (see note 34), the methodology I apply here draws on many seminal studies explored more fully in Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” e.g., Van der Werf, Hendrik, The Oldest Extant Part Music and the Origin of Western Polyphony, 2 vols. (Rochester, NY: published by the author, 1993); and Huot, Sylvia, From Song to Book: The Poetics of Writing in Old French Lyric and Lyrical Narrative Poetry (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1987).

43. Lincoln, Cathedral Chapter Library, MS 105. See “Babio,” ed. Fulgheri, Andrea Dessì, in Commedie latine del XII e XIII secolo, ed. Feruccio Bertini, 6 vols. (Genoa: Istituto di filologia classica e medievale, 1976–98), 2 (1980): 129301, at 159. See also Symes, “Performance and Preservation,” 42–4.

44. Lalou, Élisabeth, “Les Rôlets de théâtre: Étude codicologique,” in Théâtre et spectacles hier et aujourd'hui: Moyen Âge et Renaissance (Paris: Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques, 1991), 5172, at 53–4. The scroll from the British Library (Additional MS 23986) contained the text of the Middle English Interludium de clerico et puella and, on the reverse, a French chanson des barons. See Clanchy, 143; and Taylor, Andrew, “The Myth of the Minstrel Manuscript,” Speculum 66.1 (1991): 4373, at 68–9. Paul Aebischer's translation of the Swiss scroll includes a photograph of the artifact; see Un fragment de rôle comique datant du début du XIVe siècle retrouvé dans un manuscrit déposé aux Archives cantonales du Valais à Sion,” Vallesia 22 (1967): 7180. The fragility of early modern actors’ roles is also stressed in Stern, 236.

45. Farmer, Alan B. and Lesser, Zachary, “Vile Arts: The Marketing of English Printed Drama, 1512–1660,” Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 39 (2000): 77165. See also Gurr, Shakespeare Company, 88, 121–9; and Stern, cited above.

46. Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 829–30. The catalog is contained in Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France [hereinafter, BnF], fonds français (hereinafter, fr.) 2812, fols. 78–82. It has been edited by Achille Chereau; see Catalogue d'un marchand libraire du XVe siècle tenant boutique à Tours (Paris: Académie des bibliophiles, 1868).

47. “Quemdam ludum de Sancta Katerina—quem ‘Miracula’ vulgariter appellamus”; Gesta abbatum monasterii Sancti Albani, ed. Riley, Henry Thomas, 2 vols., Rolls Series (London: Longmans, Green, Reader, & Dyer, 1867), 1: 73–4 (at 73).

48. The codex now forms part of Paris, BnF, fr. 25566. The abbreviated versions of Adam's play are found in Paris, BnF, fr. 837, fols. 250v–251r; and in Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Reg. 1490, fols. 131v–133v. See Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 814–18; and Symes, Common Stage, 185–8. I revisit the circumstances of this manuscript's making in “Repeat Performances: Jehan Bodel, Adam de la Halle, and the Re-Usable Pasts of Their Plays,” in Collections in Context, ed. Fresco, Karen and Hedeman, Anne D. (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2011), forthcoming.

49. Henry, Albert, Le “Jeu de saint Nicolas” de Jean Bodel, 3d ed. (Geneva: Droz, 1981), 4250. See also Symes, Common Stage, 32–4, 43, 65, 159, 275.

50. “Che nous content li voir disant / Qu'en sa vie trouvons lisant.” Henry, Le “Jeu de saint Nicolas,” vv. 8–9 (my translation)

51. Stern, 63–80.

52. Pietropaolo, Domenico, “Improvisation in the Arts,” in Improvisation in the Arts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, ed. McGee, Timothy J. (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications [Western Michigan University], 2003), 128.

53. Paris, BnF, fr. 819–20. See Runnalls, Graham, “The Manuscript of the Miracles de Nostre Dame par personnages,” Romance Philology 22.1 (1968): 1522; and Runnalls, , “The Miracles de Nostre Dame par personnages: Erasures in the Manuscript and the Dates of the Plays and the ‘Serventois,’Philological Quarterly 49.1 (1970): 1929; and Clark, Robert L. A. and Sheingorn, Pamela, “‘Visible Words’: Gesture and Performance in the Miniatures of BNF, MS fr. 810–820,” in Parisian Confraternity Drama of the Fourteenth Century: The “Miracles de Nostre Dame par personnages,” ed. Maddox, Donald and Sturm-Maddox, Sara (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008), 193217.

54. “Matthew Hutton's Letter to the Mayor and Council of York (1567),” in Medieval Drama: An Anthology, ed. Walker, Greg (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2000), 206. For a facsimile edition of the register, which was kept up to date until 1583, see The York Play: A Facsimile of British Library MS Additional 35290, ed. Beadle, Richard and Meredith, Peter (Leeds: University of Leeds School of English, 1983).

55. Again, this is corroborated by the textual record of other traditional performance practices. The scripts of the Japanese nōh[0] theatre are “not solely, or even primarily, concerned with reproducing ordinary dialogue” and characters are not necessarily limited to voicing lines that they “might ‘logically’ or ‘naturally’ speak”; sometimes they take over the lines ascribed to another actor or actors. See Brazell, Karen, “Japanese Theater: A Living Tradition,” in Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays, trans. Araki, James T. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 343, at 24–5. See also Tedlock, Spoken Word, 107.

56. The manuscript is now Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Vitr. 5–9, fols. 67v–68r; it was originally Toledo, Biblioteca del Cabildo, Cax-6, 8. For an illuminating discussion of the play's political, religious, and cultural context, see Pick, Lucy K., Conflict and Coexistence: Archbishop Rodrigo and the Muslims and Jews in Medieval Spain (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004), 185201. For an edition and English translation of the play, see Stebbins, Charles E., “The Auto de los reyes magos: An Old Spanish Mystery Play of the Twelfth Century,” Allegorica 2.1 (1977): 118–43.

57. Orléans, Bibliothèque municipale, 201. See the facsimile photographs printed in The Fleury Playbook: Essays and Studies, ed. Campbell, Thomas P. and Davidson, Clifford (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications [Western Michigan University], 1985), pl. 874.

58. See the discussion and images in Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 795–801; and Symes, “A Few Odd Visits: Unusual Settings of the Visitatio sepulchri,” in Music and Medieval Manuscripts: Paleography and Performance—Essays in Honour of Andrew Hughes, ed. Haines, John and Rosenfeld, Randall (Aldershot and Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004), 300–22.

59. See the discussion and images in Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 810–14; and Symes, The Boy and the Blind Man: A Medieval Play Script and Its Editors,” in The Book Unbound: Editing and Reading Medieval Books and Texts, ed. Echard, Siân and Partridge, Stephen B. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 105–43.

60. See also Palfrey, Simon and Stern, Tiffany, Shakespeare in Parts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

61. Paris, BnF, fr. 837; Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 813–18.

62. MD, 165 and 170 (my translation).

63. Ibid., 156 (my translation).

64. London, British Library, Egerton 2615, fols. 95–108; The Play of Daniel, transcribed by Zijlstra, A. Marcel J. in The “Play of Daniel”: Critical Essays, ed. Ogden, Dunbar H. (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications [Western Michigan University], 1996), 89126. Another edition is available in MD, 138–54 (my translation).

65. Fassler, Margot, “The Feast of Fools and Danielis ludus: Popular Tradition in a Medieval Cathedral Play,” in Plainsong in the Age of Polyphony, ed. Kelly, Thomas Forrest (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 6599, at 66–7.

66. Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 802–12; see also Symes, “Performance and Preservation.”

67. The alternative first line of the Paris manuscript reads recitom (for representon in the Canterbury manuscript, cited above), possibly to denote a divergent performance tradition. See “La Seinte Resureccion” from the Paris and Canterbury MSS, ed. Kelly, Thomas Forrest et al. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1943). Another edition is available in MD, 123–36 (my translation). See also Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 805–10.

68. Tours, Bibliothèque municipale, 927, fols. 20r–40r. Photographs of each page are published in the edition of Sletsjöe, Leif, Le Mystère d'Adam: Édition diplomatique accompagné d'une reproduction photographique du manuscrit de Tours et des leçons des éditions critiques, (Paris: Klincksieck, 1968). For a discussion of the manuscript layout, see Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 803–5.

69. London, British Library, Cotton Manuscripts, Tiberius A.iii.

70. Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 815–18.

71. Symes, “Performance and Preservation,” 43.

72. Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 19411, fols. 2v–7r, pp. 6–15. See Ludus de Antichristo, ed. Gisela Vollmann-Profe, 2 vols. (Göppingen: Kümmerle, 1981), 1:v–ix (a facsimile and transcription of the text are supplied in vol. 1, and an edition and German translation of the text in vol. 2). A digital edition of the entire manuscript is available online via the estimable Manuscripta Medievalia database:; accessed 17 February 2011.

73. Symes, “Appearance of Early Vernacular Plays,” 818–23. Adam is the only secular composer of the thirteenth century known to have experimented with polyphony: see Falck, Robert, “Adam de la Halle,” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. Sadie, Stanley and Tyrrell, John, 29 vols. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 1: 136–40.

74. “Apparebit dextra in conspectu regis scribens in pariete: Mane, Thechel, Phares” and “statim consumentur a leonibus.” Danielis ludus in MD, 137–54, at 141 and 153 (my translation).

75. “Et habebit ollam coopertam pannis suis, quam percutiet Chaim, quasi ipsum Abel occideret”; Ordo representacionis Adæ, in MD, 78–121, at 112 [my translation]. Other editions include Le Mystère d'Adam, ed. Aebischer, Paul (Geneva: Droz and Paris: Minard, 1964); and Le Mystère d'Adam: Édition diplomatique, ed. Leif Sletsjöe (see note 68).

76. Ordo representacionis Adæ, in MD, 81 [my translation].

77. “Quidam simulans se in proelio occisum”; Ludus de Antichristo, fol. 5vb (p. 12b).

78. “Postea Herodes corrodatur a vermibus”; Ludus de Nativitate, in MD, 178–201, at 200 (my translation).

79. “Imitando gestus Judaei in omnibus” and “cum magna sapientia et eloquentia”; Ludus de Nativitate, in MD, 183 and 195.

80. Ad repraesentandum conversionem beati Pauli Apostoli, in MD, 164–8, at 166, 167.

81. It is now Wiesbaden, Hessische Landesbibliothek Clm 2; the play occupies fols. 478va (Incipit Ordo Virtutum at the foot of the column) through 481vb, the last page of the codex. My initial analysis was based on the facsimile: Hildegard von Bingen, Lieder: Faksimile Riesencodex (Hs.2) der Hessischen Landesbibliothek Wiesbaden, fol. 466–481v, ed. Lorenz Welker and Michael Klaper (Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1998). Readings have since been confirmed with reference to the digital version available online, courtesy of the Hessische Landesbibliothek: An edition of the text—exhibiting a high degree of editorial intervention and lacking music—is available in Peter Dronke, 's Nine Medieval Latin Plays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 160–84.

82. It is a testament to the meticulous system in place at the Rupertsberg convent that only one character designation is open to editorial question, apparently erased by the scribe and never resupplied. In one other instance, space was allocated for a designation that can be supplied with confidence from the context: fol. 480ra, before v. 113. Further indications of later clarifications made by the same scribe are visible in the illa squeezed in after the designation Anima before v. 33 on fol. 479ra and in designations for verses to be sung by the Virtutes added in a number of places, notably in the margin of fol. 479va (referring to vv. 72–3) and above the lines for the two following speeches in the same column (before vv. 79, 82), as well as contracted into abbreviations at the bottom of fol. 480ra (before v. 125) and in three places on fol. 480ra (before vv. 130, 134, 139). Moreover, the designations for the verses proper to the characters Timor Dei (Fear of God), Fides (Faith), and Spes (Hope) were undoubtedly added in afterthought, perhaps by the same scribe but certainly with a different or mended pen (fols. 479va and 479vb). In two of these cases, no reader or performer would be in any doubt as to the identity of the characters: Ego Timor Dei (v. 80), Ego Fides (v. 93). But Spes does not name herself unambiguously in vv. 98–100, nor do the Virtues call her by name in their reply, so it is plausible that the potential for confusion became apparent later on and that a special effort was therefore made to remove all ambiguities.

83. Derolez, Albert, “The Manuscript Transmission of Hildegard of Bingen's Writings: The State of the Problem,” in Hildegard of Bingen: The Context of Her Thought and Art, ed. Burnett, Charles and Dronke, Peter (London: Warburg Institute, 1998), 1728. In the same volume, see Madeline Caviness, “Hildegard as Designer of the Illustrations to Her Works,” 29–62. See also Caviness, “Artist: ‘To See, Hear, and Know All at Once,’” in Voice of the Living Light: Hildegard of Bingen and Her World, ed. Newman, Barbara (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 110–24. A large portion of the Ordo virtutum was later recycled by Hildegard in the final segment of the Scivias (III.13), in which divine revelations are accompanied by antiphons and responsories are drawn from the Symphonia, with the Ordo providing dialogue interrupted by additional prosæ.

84. A later example would be the manuscript of John Lydgate's mummings, which were copied by John Shirley during the poet's lifetime and which thus became “poems that insist upon their status as parts of a vernacular poetic tradition emerging—in large part due to Lydgate—as a privileged form of social commentary and political reflection” conveyed through texts; Nolan, Maura, John Lydgate and the Making of Public Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 72. See also Claire Sponsler, “Drama in the Archives: Recognizing Medieval Plays,” in From Script to Stage in Early Modern England, ed. Holland and Orgel, 111–30. On the conflation of late-medieval reading, performing, and devotional practices, see Coleman, Joyce, Public Reading and the Reading Public in Late Medieval England and France (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); and Brantley, Jessica, Reading in the Wilderness: Private Devotion and Public Performance in Late Medieval England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

85. Margot Fassler, “Composer and Dramatist: ‘Melodious Singing and the Freshness of Remorse,’” in Voice of the Living Light, ed. Newman, 145–79, at 150–1, 154.

86. Symes, Common Stage, 271–6.

87. Williams, Ralph G., “I Shall Be Spoken: Textual Boundaries, Authors, and Intent,” in Palimpsest: Editorial Theory in the Humanities, ed. Bornstein, George and Williams, Ralph G. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), 4566, at 61.

88. Dagenais, John, The Ethics of Reading in a Manuscript Culture: Glossing the “Libro de buen amor” (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 111.

89. “Il n'est poinct en la possibillité d'homme vivant sur la terre le scavoyr si bien rediger par escript qu'il fut exécuté par effect”; quoted in Enders, Rhetoric and the Origins of Medieval Drama, 16–17 (translation modified).

90. Bennett, “Making of Theatre History,” 63. Bennett cites the exemplary work of Stoler, Ann Laura in “Colonial Archives and the Art of Governance,” Archival Science 2.1–2 (2002): 87109. References of this kind could be multiplied: the construction of archives and the use of archival evidence has become a crucial area of historical inquiry and methodological innovation under the influence of Michel de Certeau and Michel Foucault, particularly in postcolonial contexts. See, e.g., Burton, Antoinette, ed., Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History (Chapel Hill, NC: Duke University Press, 2005). At the same time, it is important to note that archival evidence takes on a new dimension when viewed through the lens of performance, as in Davis, Natalie Zemon, Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and Their Tellers in Sixteenth-Century France (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990).

I am extremely grateful for the helpful comments of Theatre Survey's anonymous readers and to its editor, Catherine Cole. I extend special thanks to the many audiences who have offered responses to various iterations of this argument since it began life as a semiscripted performance: colleagues and students at the University of London, the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York, the University of California at Davis, Fordham University, the University of Tennessee, the University of Pennsylvania, Southern Connecticut State University, and the University of Illinois. I acknowledge with gratitude Domenico Pietropaolo and participants in the conference on “Scripted Orality” at the University of Toronto in November 2006, where many elements of this article came together. I also owe thanks to Helen Gittos, Sarah Hamilton, and all those who contributed to the stimulating symposium on “Performing Medieval Liturgy” at St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff, in June 2010. Most fundamentally, I thank my colleague at Bennington College, Janis Young, and the students in our experimental course on medieval theatre in the spring of 2000. All translations are my own, unless otherwise indicated.


  • Carol Symes


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