The Croxton Play of the Sacrament

Elisabeth Dutton

in The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Drama

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199566471
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

The Croxton Play of the Sacrament

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)



The Croxton Play of the Sacrament is the only host miracle play to survive in English. But while the Croxton Play of the Sacrament readily finds a place in academic histories of anti-Semitism, sacramental theology, and violence and special effects in the theatre, David Lawton cautions that the theoretical approaches which the play invites tend to generate ‘mythologies’, or ‘points at which scholarly conclusions have raced ahead of the evidence’. Croxton, a farcical comedy laden with slapstick violence, is nonetheless unsettlingly multivalent. Furthermore, the Croxton Play cannot be definitively placed in a context, and because it has such a curious textual transmission, and so little is certain about the circumstances in which it was performed, the meanings which it may once have held for those who read it or saw it played are exceptionally difficult to determine. This article suggests that Croxton's purpose in the more usual, generalized sense of ‘intention’, what it ostensibly means or tells, may be in tension with its ‘purpoos’, in the sense of its action, what it shows. The article begins by addressing the few certainties and many complexities of time and place.

Keywords: medieval drama; Tudor drama; host miracle play; intention; time; place; religious drama

Article.  8623 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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