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N-Town Cycle of Mystery Plays


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AT: Ludus Coventriae; The Coventry Mystery Plays; The Hegge Plays A: Anon. Pf: Late 15th c., various English towns, including Lincoln Pb: 1922 G: Cycle of 40 mystery plays; Middle English (East Anglian dialect) verse S: Heaven and earth, from the Fall of Lucifer to the Last Judgement C: approx. 50m, 5f, many extrasBased on the one manuscript, there are approximately 40 plays, which closely follow the sequence of events in The York Cycle. Major omissions, however, are any plays dealing with the Israelites in Egypt, while additions are The Tree of Jesse and those uniquely dealing with the early life of Mary, including her conception and betrothal.

AT: Ludus Coventriae; The Coventry Mystery Plays; The Hegge Plays A: Anon. Pf: Late 15th c., various English towns, including Lincoln Pb: 1922 G: Cycle of 40 mystery plays; Middle English (East Anglian dialect) verse S: Heaven and earth, from the Fall of Lucifer to the Last Judgement C: approx. 50m, 5f, many extras

Long thought to be a cycle of mystery plays staged in the city of Coventry or possibly Lincoln, this manuscript is now regarded as being a collection of plays to be performed, probably on stationary platforms, in different locations in the Midlands. N-Town is derived from the banns, which did not specify the town, but simply referred to ‘N.town’, requiring the name of the venue to be inserted, while Hegge refers to the first known owner of the manuscript. In tone these plays keep emphasizing the redemptive and merciful quality of God and contain little of the robust humour of the three major cycles (York, Chester, Towneley). So, for example, instead of the usual wrangling between Noah and his wife, she is here shown to be as pious as he.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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