A medieval pageant is a form of procession traditionally associated with both secular (nonreligious) and religious rituals, often with a narrative structure. Pageants were an important aspect of medieval European seasonal festivals, in particular around the celebration of Corpus Christi, which began after the 13th century. This festival reenacted the entire history of the world in processional performance, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, employing hundreds of performers and mobile scenic elements. Plays were performed on mobile stages, called waggons, that traveled through towns so plays could be watched consecutively. Each waggon was sponsored by a guild who wrote, designed, and acted in the plays.
Other pageants in the Christian world have centered on Saints' festivals, Carnival (Mardi Gras), and Easter, while vernacular agrarian festivals have celebrated seasonal events such as the harvest, and the Summer/Winter solstices (Midsummer's Night).
Drawing on this rich and varied Medieval tradition contemporary artists such as Bread and Puppet Theater, the Welfare State, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, Spiral Q Puppet Theater, and Superior Concept Monsters have used pageants as a potent community-based performance form.
- Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays by A.C. Cawley
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