Based on an analysis of Everyman, explore possibilities for staging a medieval morality play for a contemporary Scottish audience.
Contemporising the arguably best surviving example of medieval drama, everyman, is filled with lots of possibilities. This essay will explore the possibilities of contemporising the play for a young audience in a Theatre in Education format. It will look at modern topical issues and link them to the relevance to children today.
Unlike most morality plays which are, ‘long, sober and discursive’ (Allen) Everyman, is not. Alternatively it is a ‘brief, spirited and moving’ (Allen) piece of theatre. Although it is over 500 years since it was first devised, it still ‘remains playable today’ (Allen) and very relevant to contemporary audiences. Because of this one could argue that it would be a perfect example of a text that could be contemporises to audiences in Scotland today.
Everyman is a play exploring the ‘everyman’, in which God is displeased with what he sees with everyman and sends Death, his messenger to inform everyman of his approaching end. Everyman goes on a philosophical journey, meeting various characters on the way, characters such as; strength, fellowship and knowledge. Though all of these are uninterested in helping everyman and in the end only good deeds accompanies everyman to the gates of heaven and hell. This then hopefully shows the audience that ‘death comes to everyone, and always unexpectantly, and, when it does, only our good deeds will help to justify us before god’ (Walker)
What role do audiences play in creating popular culture? Explain how Hollywood both manipulated and reflected the popular culture of the 1950's and 60's. The role of the audience is to infuse the fire in the popular culture movement. It appears that Hollywood was caught between the wall and the blade in the 1950’s, on one side you had the dominant culture flexing their muscle to have Hollywood ...
To contemporise any play, one has to look at relevant themes within the play, relevant to today’s audiences. It is also needed to look at the target audience and make the contempory adaption suitable. Children are an excellent target audience for a morality play, so they can be educated using theatre to address topical issues and hopefully learn the moral to the story. Taking topical issues relevant to Scotland today and modernising the text, works as children’s will find this easier to relate to. Accompanying the modern adaption of everyman with a follow on workshop after the production would also help engage and educate the children.
‘In 1495 the plague killed one-fourth of the population of England. You could be healthy a nine o’clock, and, without any warning, dead at noon’ (Allen) A present day ‘plague’ that could be explored as a bases for an adaption of everyman could be the current ‘swine flu’ pandemic. Everyman could be an everyday man or lady living in Scotland. They could be on an aeroplane on their way back from his lavish honeymoon in Mexico. As the plane lands, everyman prepares to get ready to make his way to the arrivals lounge (gates of heaven).
The captain (the messenger) comes over the tannoy to announce that as swine flu was present on board they are to be sealed in and left to die as to not spread the flu. As the passengers on board erupt in chaos and hysteria, everyman is approached by an airhostess on board (death) who informs him of his quest. As the majority of the passengers are let off as they are ’clean’, everyman is left with his family and friends. His family and friends are also ‘clean’ and are allowed to leave and only have a limited amount of time on board with everyman. Everyman then begins frantically trying to persuade them in turn to stay with him and accompany him to his end. Some of these could be his parents (knowledge and strength) his wife (fellowship and beauty) and his groomsmen (cousin, confession and discression).
These all one by one leave everyman on the plane and he is left with his wife’s son (good deeds) Everyman thinks this is the end and in a last attempt offers death lots of money and his ‘flash car’ in return for his life, death refuses and everyman despairs. It is at this point that the child points out that all the money in the world, ‘flash cars’ nice clothes a wife and friends are immaterial and it is his good deeds, such as, taking him on and being a father to his wife’s son, doing his bit for recycling and helping the environment by cycling to work is what will take him to heaven. This will show the audience that ‘we can take with us from this world nothing that we have received, only what we have given’ (Miracle players)
Child care workers have a big role in supporting children’s moral and spiritual development as they are professionals they also play a part in being a role model to the children which links into their moral and spiritual development. Spiritual and moral development for a child is about the mental attitude of the child over moral matters. It’s important that the children develops their moral ...
To heighten the link with medieval theatre, this contemporary adaption could be performed by a touring TIE (Theatre in Education) company. Bringing the theatre, set, costume, props and actors to the audience. This is similar to what Pageant carts did in medieval times. To increase the moral of the story of everyman, the TIE production could be followed on by a workshop and classroom notes. The workshop could work on helping the children make their own ‘book of accounts’ (Everyman) by exploring their own ‘good deeds’ and why these are important. The workshop could be run by the character that plays the Doctor. Everyman ‘ends up with a short sermon from an authority figure, in this case doctor of divinity’ (Walker) He could be the person who takes the boarding passes from the audience as they enter, the baggage handler, the cleaner on the plane and the person who delivers the moral of the story at the end. As this character will then be portrayed by the children as un threatening and approachable and perfect to lead them into a follow on workshop.
The possibilities of contemporising everyman are endless. This essay has explored the concept of adapting it to a young audience, to help them understand their own morals. Though it may also be successful being modernised for other contemporary Scottish audiences. By exploring this contemporary Scottish adaption, it is helping the young audience with their own morals in today’s society.
Cawley, A.C, Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays, J.M Dent, London, 2004.
Walker, Greg, Medieval Drama-An Anthology, Blackwell Publishers, Great Brittan, 1998.