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The Second Shepherds' Play

*Updated Schedule


The Second Shepherds’ Play and Early Drama Studies

A Folger Institute Workshop

Thursday and Friday, 13 and 14 December 2007



Thursday evening, 13 December

TheSecond Shepherds’ Play presented by the Folger Consort

Folger Elizabethan Theatre, 7:30 p.m., 201 East Capitol Street, SE

Musicians and actors center the production in its origins with medieval dances and sacred songs.  With instrumentalists Robert Eisenstein, Charles Weaver, and Tom Zajac.


[Participants’ tickets will be available for pick-up from 4:30 to 7:00 in the Founders Room.]



Friday, 14 December

All Friday sessions to be held in the Folger Board Room unless otherwise noted.



9:00–9:30        Coffee and Pastries



9:30–10:45      Mak in the Twenty-First Century: The Perils and Promises of  Production

Robert Eisenstein (Folger Consort), Claire Sponsler (University of Iowa), Mary Hall Surface (Director), and Greg Walker (University of Edinburgh)

Welcome and Chair: Kathleen Lynch  (Folger Institute)


We join in a discussion of the opportunities and limitations of a modern production. What are the conventions currently availed of? What is the evidentiary basis of past practices? What is supplied textually, musically, in terms of stagecraft, etc.? What has been reinvented here, borrowed from other sources, or modernized? What is  “authenticity” in production, and is it a desirable thing?



10:45–11:15       Coffee Break



11:15–12:30     Drama and Society

Theresa Coletti (University of  Maryland) and Janette Dillon (University of Nottingham)

Chair: Mimi Godfrey (Shakespeare Quarterly)


What kind of drama is the Second Shepherds’ Play : mystery, burlesque, comedy, “mongrel tragi-comedy”? What does a performance suggest about the nature of medieval religious drama and its role in medieval society? What do we know about the historical and cultural contexts of production and performance? What do we know about the ways drama and other spectacles, pageants, or civic ceremonies organized social space and social identity?


12:30–2:15      Lunch

Provided in the Foulke Conference Room, 301 East Capitol Street, SE



2:15–3:30        Change, Continuity, and Categorization

Sarah Carpenter (University of Edinburgh) and John McGavin (University of Southampton)

Chair: Stephen Wright (The Catholic University of America)


Two great binaries tend to divide the field of Early Drama: 1) the chronological issue, i.e., when is early-modern drama not medieval and vice versa? and 2) the cross-fertilizations across the secular/religious divide, i.e., what separates a Morality Play from an Interlude, a Miracle from a Mystery? How useful are these categories?



3:30–4:00          Tea Break



4:00–5:15        New Directions in Early Drama Studies

Sarah Beckwith (Duke University) and Alexandra Johnston (REED, University of Toronto)

Chair: Jeffrey Cohen (The George Washington University)


The group will discuss the recent scholarly turn toward the body and other issues of  performativity as a way of asking whether Early Drama is the domain of theatre studies, medieval literature, social history, or even anthropology. We may also look at how new directions in the study of late-medieval religious culture, modes of piety, and ceremonial culture have impacted or might impact our understandings of the drama, and vice versa.



5:15–6:45         Closing Reception

Exhibition Hall

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