Staging Creation and the Fall of Lucifer (York Pageant)

Jerz > Theater > York Pageant [ Staging | Context | Simulator | Glossary ]

Staging: [ Creation/Lucifer | Crucifixion | Emmaus | Judgment ]

Creation and the Fall of Lucifer (Play 1)

Pageant Wagon (Quicktime Movie)

Wagon Arriving: Faster Downlaod (; 189kb)
Wagon Arriving: Better Quality (; 355kb)Waggon arrives at stationActors and stagehands pull a decorated platform, called a pageant wagon or simply a pageant, into a pre-arranged performance location, known as a station, where the audience has already gathered. This pageant, depicting the creation of the universe and the fall of Lucifer, began the York Cycle.

Each play-mounted wagon was the responsibility of a different guild (or group of guilds). In many cases, the guilds and their plays were thematically related. For instance, the play depicting Noah’s construction of the ark was sponsored by the shipbuilders’ guild; the play of the Wedding Feast at Cana (where Christ turned water into wine) was produced by the vintners; and the play of the Last Supper was sponsored by the bakers. This play, the Creation and the Fall of Lucifer, was sponsored by the Tanners.
Historical records from the town of York suggest that the most successful guilds invested quite a lot of money into their annual production, which we can think of as a combination of corporate bowling league, community theatre, and Thanksgiving Day parade.
The actor playing God stands on the upper level of the stage; angels stand on the main level, and a chute descends from the main stage, down through a gaping and smoking mouth, and to hell (the ground).Although this production shows the actors facing the long side of the wagon, some recent scholars conjecture that the streets of medieval York actors may have been too narrow for large crowds to fit between the wagon and the neighboring building.  The actors may have delivered their lines over the long end of the wagon, to a crowd that could spread out down the length of the street.
Deus (God), delivers the first lines: Ego sum Alpha et O vita viaVeritas primus et nouissimus.I am gracious and great, god without beginning.
I am maker unmade, all might is in me.
I am life and way unto wealth winning
I am foremost and first, as I bid shall it be.God announces his intention to create “a place full of plenty to my pleasing at ply” (that is, to work at pleasing Him).He introduces his angels, most of whom sing His praises — but Lucifer has other ideas.
God, after creating heavens and the other angels, makes Lucifer “mirror of my might,” but Lucifer is more interested in his own pleasing face than in offering praise and worship to his creator:
All the mirth that is made is marked in me,
The beams of my brightness are burning so bright,
And I so seemly in sight my self now I see,
For like a lord am I left to lend in this light,
More fair by far than my peers,
In me is no point that may compare
Lucifer attempts to climb to the upper level of the stage, where God is standing:I shall be like unto him that is highest on height.
In punishment for their pride, the bad angels are cast into hell. Here, Lucifer slides down through the smoking mouth of hell, losing his angelic robes in the process, and reversing his mask to reveal a hideous face: “My brightness is blackest”!
Lucifer tries to defend himself: “I said but a thought” — but it is too late. God announces that he will make man in order to replace the fallen angels. In preparation for this act, he separates light from dark, just as the good angels are now separated from the bad.

Staging: [ Creation/Lucifer | Crucifixion | Emmaus | Judgment ]


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