morality plays

Anonymous - Mundus Et Infans

To round out our Morality-Play Sunday, I read Mundus Et Infans. Imagine the speech from As You Like it on the 7 ages of man, as a play...with conscience and various vices re-naming man as he moves through each stage from childhood to old age. It has quite a few locational references which the others do not have, and again here the vices are quite explicit in their words (though not in their actions as in Mankind).

Again, I feel like reading Everyman in school (repeatedly) is a cheat of some more fun Morality Plays.

Anonymous - Everyman

This is a Sunday Morality free for all. Read Everyman, which I had read a version of previously in undergrad (I want to say for Theatre history?). I feel like we get the short end of the stick in school with morality play selection, given how fun Mankind was. If I design a course in future (when i design....) I am going to select another play. Or maybe two plays.

Anyway, on to Everyman. This is very clearly delineated, as all Morality Plays are; Man is expected to be good, but is tempted by vice, which in this case is embodied by 5 wits, beauty, discretion, etc. Man fails, and is given another chance by God to not sway from good behaviour. Maybe it is just positioning, but Everyman comes across as far more didactic in comparison to other morality plays...i realize this is the point...but the vices and temptations are also less "bad".

Anonymous - Mankind

Everyman was on our reading for Theorizing, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to read a couple more morality plays (why not, right?). I grabbed an anthology with three; Everyman, Mankind, and Mundus Et Infans.

Mankind was up first. Despite being attributed to somewhere 1400-1600 England, I was struck by just how modern the evil characters come across. Nought, Newguise and Nowadays, along with Mischeif, are not at all unlike the "bad" characters we still see in movies today. I was also surprised, given the religious attachments of Moral Plays, at the vulgarity of their actions. They were no less crude than some of Shakespeare's base characters, with no lack of penis jokes. The other thing that sort of stood out was the shock factor of these characters; almost like pre-Artaud shock. I don't know a lot about his influence, but for some reason reading this I thought of him.