Medieval morality play still packs a punch

Posted by Claire Musters  ·  Be the first to comment

The morality play, Everyman, is taking centre stage at Hull's Holy Trinity Church from 25–28th April.

Everyman funeral procession, courtesy of Mike Parks, university photographer

Students from Hull University's Department of Drama and Music are performing the medieval play – an allegorical drama that teaches Christians how they should live and reminds them of the brevity of life.

Such morality plays usually include personifications of virtues, vices, objects and activities and, in Everyman, Fellowship, Goods, Good Deeds, Knowledge, Beauty and Strength are joined by characters representing angels and God himself.

The production's director, Dr Philip Crispin, said: "Two years ago the people of Hull paid to see the Devil on stage when they went to see the medieval play Mankind. Now God himself (or at least the actor playing him) will visit the city to ask them to explain themselves in a 'general reckoning', this time in the celebrated morality play Everyman.

"The play shows how all people are apprehended by Death, God's 'mighty messenger'. The eponymous Everyman learns the hard way that bling and selfish living don't make a perfect end."

The Rev Neal Barnes, Vicar of Holy Trinity, said: "We are delighted to be hosting the production. After the success of the play Abelard and Heloïse by final-year students in 2011, we are looking forward greatly to enjoying this fresh interpretation of such an iconic play.

"Vast and beautiful Holy Trinity, a glory of the Middle Ages, offers a very appropriate setting for this play, with its clear ethical message – one which can still speak to us through the centuries."

Poster advertising Everyman performance

Dr Crispin agrees: "Playing Everyman in Holy Trinity has enabled us to literally go on a journey, travelling with our trinity of Everymen through the space which also corresponds to three distinct phases in the development of the narrative of Everyman's last hours of life.

"I have been inspired by the processional possibilities afforded by great churches and also the solemn ritual aspects of the play which promulgate faithfully a belief in the seven sacraments.

"For example, the priest's sprinkling of the 'faithful' at the graveside with holy water from the aspergillium is a reminder of their shared baptism, their common unity as part of the body of Christ.

"I have sought to emphasise these aspects and have further drawn upon the music and liturgy of the requiem Mass which seem to me to complement the play and make absolute sense of it."

Everyman is on at Holy Trinity Church, Market Place, Hull, from 25–28th April at 7pm with a 3pm matinee on 28th April. Entry is free but making a reservation is recommended – to do so contact gulbenkian@hull.ac.uk or 01482 466141.

24th April

April 24th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Claire Musters

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