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In the 11th and 12th centuries,
most English commoners were illiterate.
Since they had no way to learn the Bible,
the clergy came up with an inventive solution:
they'd create plays out of certain Bible stories
so even people who couldn't read could learn them.
These were called mystery plays
because they revealed the mystery of God's word.
At about the same time,
the clergy also developed plays
about the saints of the church,
called miracle plays.
In the beginning,
the clergy members acted out Bible stories
on the steps outside the cathedral.
The audience reacted so well
that soon they needed to move out to the street
around the town square.
By building moving carts to put on each play
and by lining up one after the other,
they could put on cycles of stories,
which would take the viewer
from Genesis
to Revelation.
These movable carts, called pageants,
looked like huge boxes on wheels.
Each was two stories tall.
The bottom story was curtained off
and was used for costumes, props, and dressing.
The top platform was the stage for the performance.
Spectators assembled in various corners of the town,
and the pageant would move around in the cycle
until the villagers had seen the entire series.
Soon, the plays required more actors
than the clergy could supply.
So, by the 13th century,
different guilds were asked to be responsible
for acting out different parts of the cycle.
The assignments were meant to reflect
the guilds' professions.
For example, the carpenter's guild might put on
the story of Noah's Ark,
and the baker's guild might put on The Last Supper.
Can you imagine what might happen to the story
if the butcher's guild put on The Crucifixion of Christ?
Yes, without the clergy,
the plays soon started changing
from their true Bible stories.
By the end of the 14th century, a new form of drama,
called the morality play, had evolved.
and good deeds
all became characters on the stage.
And, at the same time, the opposite virtues
of falsehood,
worldly flesh,
and the devil
became the antagonists.
The morality plays were allegorical stories
in which these characters battled for the control of the soul.
Audiences loved the immoral characters,
and spectators were encouraged
to interact with the actors.
Throwing rotten food
and even getting into scuffles with other spectators
became very common.
The character of the devil
often would roam through the crowds
and pull unsuspecting watchers
into a hell that was depicted as a dragon's mouth.
The virtuous Biblical stories had morphed
into crude and sometimes comic stories.
The clergy intended to teach against immorality.
How ironic, then, that the morality plays
actually encouraged vices as more popular than virtues.
By the mid-15th century,
the church started to outlaw these performances.
Town charters required that any theater
must be built outside the city wall.
One of the first theaters
was built like a larger version of a pageant,
with tiers of gallery seating
encircling a grassy area in front of the stage.
Sound familiar?
A young William Shakespeare
developed his craft here at the theater
that was eventually renamed The Globe.
The medieval morality play had led to Renaissance playwrights
who were inspired by the inner struggles
and the conscience of man.
And that, in essence, is how drama emerged
as a literary art form.


【TED-Ed】文學樣式中的戲劇是從何而生? Development of English drama - Mindy Ploeckelmann

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