Exploring the vast and exciting world of medievalism all around us.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Medieval Drama--more from the Summer of Medievalism

The Brooklyn Friends Middle School's Spring Play this year was the Canterbury Tales! It was a big surprise; they didn't really edit a whole lot for the audience, so we got to see a whole lot of Chaucer, but with interesting anachronism. There seemed to be a lot more focus on Canterbury than there is in the actual text, and the language was either completely modern or taken out of the old Penguin translation by Neville Coghill. For some reason (lots of girls tried out?), the Prioress told the "Nun's Priest's Tale" (she probably couldn't have told her own tale, given the school's population!). Also featured were the Wife of Bath, the Miller (who ended up having to play Absolon himself), the Reeve (an unconventional choice!), the Franklin and the Pardoner, as well as a running joke about the Cook (played by a tiny girl) not being able to tell a tale. She fainted every time she tried.) It was a funny mix--lots of "grown up" stuff (no farting in the Miller's Tale, but the ass kissing and the poker made an appearance!) stayed in, but some of the more interesting stuff was left out. Which I guess is medievalism! The Middle Ages is constructed as a rollicking old time with funny, bawdy stories (romances and fabliaux, with the exception of the Pardoner), with Aesop like morals. It seemed funny that everyone complained about the Prioress telling a virtuous story when she told the Nun's Priest's Tale, which may have a morak, but also has canoodling chickens. (The chicken costumes were amazing.) There wasn't much sense of "moost sentence and moost solaas," but there was a lot of skipping around. They could have used better music--I thought they should have used some medieval tunes. But three cheers for the 6th and 7th graders and their teachers who put together a fun evening. A valiant effort! And a shout out to Maya Kaul, a most romantic Dorigen in her green guinevere dress, and also played death in the Pardoner's Tale.

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