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'Bring furth the pagants'

'Bring furth the pagants': Essays in Early English Drama presented to Alexandra F. Johnston

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 335
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  • Book Info
    'Bring furth the pagants'
    Book Description:

    Written to honour the distinguished work and career of Alexandra F. Johnston,'Bring furth the pagants'brings together original essays in early English drama by colleagues and students of the founder and director of the Records of Early English Drama Project.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8409-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. Alexandra Ferguson Johnston
    (pp. 3-6)
    David Klausner

    Alexandra Ferguson Johnston was born on 14 July 1939 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the daughter of Alexandra Sherwood and the Rev. Geoffrey Deane Johnston, minister of the Central Presbyterian Church in Brantford, Ontario, during a visit to maternal grandparents. Her American birth gave Sandy dual citizenship when, eventually, that became a legal option, and she was always proud of her American connections. Sandy (whose boundless – bounding? – energy gained her another nickname as well) showed an interest in ‘theatrical pursuits’ at an early age with the foundation of the neighbourhood Pixie Players at the age of about seven or eight,...


    • Star Turns or Small Companies?
      (pp. 9-40)

      Here is not the place to write the history of the Records of Early English Drama (REED) project, a task which Alexandra F. Johnston justifiably may wish to claim for herself. Here, however, is the place to note, somewhat tongue in cheek, that the title of this tribute describes REED itself as well as the three early drama case studies that follow as the article’s content. Most first-generation REED scholars, we of Professor Johnston’s vintage, had been reared on the star system, in particular the big three of E.K. Chambers, G.E. Bentley, and John Tucker Murray. Murray’s primacy was affirmed...

    • ‘Young men will do it’: Fun, Disorder, and Good Government in York, 1555; Some Thoughts on House Book 21
      (pp. 41-57)

      I did not realize what I was in for when, in 1974 in Leeds, I went along with Arthur Cawley to see Sandy Johnston about a new and exciting project. REED was soon to come into the world, and medieval drama was never going to be the same again. As a result, not only was I tangled with REED but with York. Neither is an entanglement that I wish to escape from, and here, Sandy, from the depths of the bramble bush are a couple of tales of York and some thoughts – a small tribute to a great achievement....

    • The Southwest Entertains: Exeter and Local Performance Patronage
      (pp. 58-76)

      The performance landscape of Devon is already familiar, thanks to John Wasson’s edition of dramatic records for the county in the REED series.¹ Records of payments for touring entertainments survive at several important boroughs – Ashburton, Barnstaple, Dartmouth, Plymouth, Tavistock and Totnes – and at the cathedral city of Exeter, where the receivers paid the first of many royal household performers in 1361–2.²

      My focus in this essay will be the period up to 1485, the date of Henry VII’s seizure of the throne. The late medieval Exeter accounts store important clues about local culture in the southwest beyond...

    • Coming Home: Provincial Gentry Families: Their Performers, Their Great Halls, Their Entertainments, and REED
      (pp. 77-90)

      My main title reflects, perhaps a little ironically, upon past REED policy for editors over the question of household records. I recall that when I began research into the records of Shropshire and Staffordshire, editorial forays into household accounts were discouraged unless the collections were held in public repositories. Difficulties over access, lack of cataloguing, poor conditions of preservation, primitive photocopying facilities, and negotiations for permissions – these and other factors were offered as reasons to dissuade one from pursuing privately held household records. And how far could one pursue them, given that many of the more prominent families had...

    • Pageantry on London Bridge in the Early Fifteenth Century
      (pp. 91-104)

      When the Londoners learned of the birth of the future Edward III on 13 November 1312 they assembled in the evening at Guildhall and carolled to show their joy. Then they processed through the streets with flaming torches and ‘with trumpets and other minstrelsies.’ A holiday was declared, no one worked, many went to St Paul’s to give thanks, and after the solemn mass ‘they led carols (menerent la karole) in the Cathedral to the sound of trumpets’ and then all returned home. On the following Monday – 20 November – the mayor and aldermen ‘richly costumed’ rode to Westminster...

    • The Ordo paginarum Revisited, with a Digital Camera
      (pp. 105-131)

      TheOrdo paginarum(‘Order of pageants,’ a term with ceremonial and religious connotations, as in ‘Order of Service’) kept by the York civic authorities in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is arguably the most important surviving document in the history of medieval English theatre, other than the scripts themselves. It was first compiled in 1415 for the city’s official Memorandum Book (A/Y) by the newly elected common clerk Roger Burton,¹ and kept thereafter, conveniently at the back of the book,² apparently as a working checklist of the pageants of the York Corpus Christi Play. According to a later marginal annotation,...

    • REED York, Volume 3, The ‘Revivals’
      (pp. 132-162)

      In accordance with the policy agreed by the founding editorial board, the first collection in the Records of Early English Drama series, the two-volume REEDYork, took the year 1642 as its terminus.¹ In this essay I entertain the notion of a third York volume, one that would take up the story of the local mystery plays in the era of the modern ‘revivals’ starting with 1951, the year of the Festival of Britain, and extending into the twenty-first century. This is not to propose that the modern records should come together physically between a handsome set of REED-red boards....


    • Doubting Thomas: ‘Womans Witnes’ and the Towneley Thomas Indie
      (pp. 165-180)

      The Towneley playThomas Indieis better known for its altered title page than for its contents. A full-colour reproduction of that page, f. 111v of Huntington Manuscript HM 1, serves as the frontispiece for the otherwise monochrome facsimile edition of the manuscript.¹ The twenty-eighth play in this manuscript collection was, like the twenty-sixth play, originally entitledResurreccio Domini(The Lord’s Resurrection), but that elaborately rubricated title has been crossed out andThomas Indie(Thomas of India) written in small black letters beside it. The latter title does not seem especially appropriate, given that the play as it stands makes...

    • The Modular Structure of Wisdom
      (pp. 181-196)

      Almost thirty years ago, Sandy Johnston casually asked me if I might be interested in becoming involved in a new research project digging out in as exhaustive a manner as possible the surviving documentary evidence for performing in late medieval England. She was looking for a researcher to take on the border county of Herefordshire, and the possibility that there might be documents in Welsh had brought my name up. That conversation was the beginning of a long and productive association with the REED project, leading first to the volume for Herefordshire and Worcestershire in 1990, then to the volume...

    • On Bombshells and Faulty Assumptions: What the Digby Conversion of Saint Paul Really Did with the Acts of the Apostles
      (pp. 197-211)

      Just over twenty years ago, Alexandra F. Johnston described, in a well-remembered conference at the University of Toronto, the academic ‘bombshell’ that F.M. Salter threw, also at the University of Toronto, thirty years before that.¹ Salter’s bombshell was, of course, his revelation that nearly everything scholars knew about the Chester cycle was wrong, and, by implication, that much of what was known about medieval drama in general was also likely to be wrong.² This explosion of old myths began a seismic shift in our understanding of medieval drama that has now continued for half a century; and the work of...

    • Some Theological Issues in Chester’s Plays
      (pp. 212-229)

      On 30 May 1575 the assembly at Chester voted by 33 votes to 12 that the Whitsun plays were ‘meet to be plaied’ at midsummer. On the face of it, this was a perverse, not to say dangerous, decision. When the plays had last been performed, at Whitsun in 1572, there had been considerable controversy. An annalist reported that ‘manye of the Cittie were sore against the settinge forthe therof’ and another pointed out that ‘an Inhibition was sent from the Archbishop to stay them but it Came too late.’¹ So soon after the unsuccessful northern rising of 1569 and...

    • The Role of the Presenter in Medieval Drama
      (pp. 230-268)

      It has been fashionable for the past forty years or so to interpret medieval theatre by way of a Brechtian dramaturgy. Those who do so are justified by artistic licence far more readily than by the medieval paradigm that they are attempting to interpret. Although the fashion may be on the wane in 2006, Brechtian notions still cling to certain aspects of our understanding of the medieval stage. This study focuses upon the double-faced Janus of medieval theatre, the liminal presenter, who stands poised upon the threshold between fact and fiction, reality and illusion, history and contemporary society at the...


    • ‘Awake your faith’: English Resurrection Drama and The Winter’s Tale
      (pp. 271-291)

      In the final scene ofThe Winter’s Tale, the hush that falls on Leontes and the other courtiers when they view Hermione’s statue pleases Paulina; ‘I like your silence;’ she remarks; ‘it the more shows off / Your wonder’ (5.3.21–2).¹ Academic fascination with this moment would probably please Paulina less, for rather than wondering in silence, we continue to ask what it can tell us about early modern intersections of religious belief and theatre. Two sites of scholarly interest concern me in this essay: the play’s use of motifs from biblical drama and its provocative animation of a devotional...

    • One Hell of an Ending: Staging Last Judgment in the Towneley Plays and in Doctor Faustus A and B
      (pp. 292-310)

      A common and not inaccurate view is that Christopher Marlowe’sDoctor Faustusowes an important debt to the Tudor morality play, even if it upends that dramatic tradition in ways that would no doubt have surprised William Wager and Thomas Lupton. (‘I am shocked, sir, shocked!’) Especially from Nathaniel Woodes’sThe Conflict of Conscience, with its two possible endings, one with the protagonist saved at the last moment and the other with the protagonist eternally damned, Marlowe could have learned a lot about the potential of English mid-century drama for a cliff-hanging account of spiritual struggle that could go either...

  7. A Bibliography of Alexandra F. Johnston’s Publications, 1967–2006
    (pp. 311-318)
  8. Contributors
    (pp. 319-320)
  9. Index
    (pp. 321-329)