Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Les Mysteres Dans Les Provinces Francaises (En Savoie et En Poitou, a Amiens et a Reims)

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Les Mysteres Dans Les Provinces Francaises (En Savoie et En Poitou, a Amiens et a Reims)

Article excerpt

Graham A. Runnalls, Les Mysteres dans les provinces francaises (en Savoie et en Poitou, a Amiens et a Reims), Bibliotheque du XV^sup e^ siecle, publiee sous la direction de J. Dufournet (Paris: Honore Champion, 2003). 309 pp. ISBN 2-745 3-0726-6. euro55.00.

Following earlier studies on late-medieval play performances (the north-east, Anjou, the Auvergne, Provence, Paris, Chateaudun), Graham Runnalls here turns his attention to the mystere in four more areas of provincial France. His stimulating and wide-ranging study, with its careful but imaginative detective work, provides a methodology that will serve as a model for theatre historians.

Taking the question of methodology as his starting point, Runnalls stresses the importance of returning to the richest source of information on performances, namely the municipal and regional archives, in marked contrast to the approach of Petit de Julleville, who was generally content to report second-hand the findings of local historians. Such information can sometimes be supplemented by other material: the livres de compte, for instance (of which few survive), containing details of the finances and organisation of a production; the manuscript of the play (the full text, the actors' rollets, or the abregiet); the legal contracts entered into by those involved; as well as references in contemporary memoirs and other writings. Taking into account such material, Runnalls does full justice to what Petit de Julleville could treat only superficially in the second volume of Les Mysteres (Paris, 1880). The value of his approach is perhaps best seen in the account of the Savoy region, to which the first three of the book's six chapters are devoted. The rediscovery of play texts previously thought to have been lost (a complete Passion with fragments of a second, a Mystere de l'Antechrist, and a Mystere de saint Sebastien) throws valuable light on the diffusion of popular religious drama. An analysis of the two Passions shows them to be based on two different versions of Jean Michel's celebrated play, of which the text of two 'new' episodes - a comic interlude and a short Resurrection - are reproduced here. A Registre relating to a production in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in 1573 provides unique details on production costs, on the choice of play-text, and on contracts relating to the provision of the special effects ('feintes'). …

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