• "As Above, So Below: Staging the Digby Mary Magdalene"

    Matthew Davis (see profile)
    CLCS Medieval, GS Drama and Performance, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Culture and Society, LLC Middle English
    British literature, Drama, English language, Literature, Medieval, Religion
    Item Type:
    digby Mary Magdalene, Hagiography, place-and-scaffold, staging practice, Medieval literature
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    With thirty-seven named locations, the Digby Mary Magdalene is rightfully considered to require the most elaborate staging of the Middle English dramatic corpus. In this article, I re-examine the manuscript to find evidence of how the various locations in the play can be grouped into what I term staging complexes. Beginning with the division of Mary Magdalene’s vita into three parts—the vita evangelica, the vita apostolica, and the vita eremetica—I examine the list of locations mentioned in either the stage directions or dialogue of the play in order to determine whether each location must physically exist in the performance space, taking note of any specifics regarding the location or construction of the particular item. By doing this, I am able to group the locations into complexes in a manner that reflects the importance of Mary Magdalene’s vita, the conception of the world depicted by the orbis terrarum or T-O map, and the ability to produce the play at a reduced expense. Furthermore, the introduction of staging complexes allow portions of the stage to stay geographically discrete, while still making the character interaction easy for an audience to follow, reduces the complexity of the performance for the actors when compared to other proposed interpretations of the play’s staging, and reinforces the concepts of penance and pilgrimage in the text.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    7 years ago
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