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The Pageant Wagon

What is the Pageant Wagon?

 Some history regarding Medieval Theatre.

wagon

The European Renaissance holds the title of being one of the great ages of theatre. Patronage of acting troupes, the establishment of permanent theatres and playwrights such as Shakespeare and Marlowe, provide solid evidence to support this statement. While this era of theatre is still studied and adored today, it is important to acknowledge that an artistic revolution like the Renaissance is indebted to its predecessor – Medieval Theatre.

By today’s standards, the subject of many plays that make up medieval theatre wouldn’t be considered as exciting as those of the Renaissance, but its history is no less impressive. With its humble beginnings of Catholic priests performing biblical events during mass, it led into the Renaissance with troupes of actors performing on one of the great tools of medieval theatre, the Pageant Wagon.

wagon

A procession of wagons would arrive in town, each performing a scene of a cycle play; the audience would either remain stationary as the wagons passed by, or the wagons would be set up in an open area allowing the public to move from play to play. It was a wonderfully inventive way to allow just about the whole community a chance to see a performance.

Unfortunately, modern day occupational health and safety standards make it a little tricky to have a pageant wagon; however 2015 saw the debut of a new venue at Abbeystowe – the Pageant Wagon – the Abbey Medieval Festival’s little homage to staging for medieval theatre. Last year the Abbey Medieval House Troupe tested the waters a little by performing Shakespeare and a variety of children’s stories on our new stage. Conveniently situated near the Market Place, the Pageant Wagon stage will be in full swing in 2016 with a full program of theatre, costume and music.

A guaranteed favourite at the Pageant Wagon stage will be the children’s story telling. Developed and performed by the Abbey Medieval House Troupe, the story telling will take place from 12-1pm, and again 3.30-4pm both Saturday and Sunday at the Festival. Performed ‘players theatre’ style, the stories are told by a narrator with sections acted out by performers.

wagon

Stories for 2016 are will include:

St George and the Dragon

Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow

King Arthur and the Sword and the Stone.

Come and sit by the Pageant Wagon stage – the perfect opportunity for families to have lunch while being entertained! Cheer for the good guys and boo at the baddies!

Buy your tickets now to see the Pageant Wagon come to life! 
If anyone would like to fund the construction of a functioning pageant wagon that meets modern day OH&S standards, please contact our House Troupe Coordinator, you will quickly become her favourite person. Ever.
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Celebrating Shakespeare

‘Eaten me out of house and home’

‘Forever and a day’

‘Good riddance’

‘Wear my heart upon my sleeve’

We’ve all heard one or all of these saying before. But did you know where they came from? Who was the first person to say or write them?

These are just some of the common phrases made popular by the great playwright and wordsmith William Shakespeare!

Ever eat a meal so delicious that the only was the describe it was to say it was “a dish fit for the gods!”

Shakespeare did.

Did your parents ever get so exasperated at your siblings (not you, of course) you hear them say “for goodness sake!”

Yep, that came from Shakespeare.

Every knows a good “Knock Knock, who’s there” joke!

That phrase came from Shakespeare too!

Going on a “wild goose chase”!

Yep, you guessed it. Shakespeare.

 

Mind Blown.

shakespeare

 

Celebrating Shakespeare with the Abbey Medieval House Troupe!

23rd April 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, and while the Bard may be ‘dead as a doornail’ (another one, thanks William!), his contributions to literature, theatre and the English language are immense and still celebrated today.

To mark this anniversary, the volunteers of Abbey Medieval House Troupe have been hard at work over the past few months developing and rehearsing a tribute to Shakespeare. Sorting through his plays to find a mere sample of gems to perform has proved to be an endeavour not for the ‘faint hearted’ (they just keep coming!). However the Troupe have managed to narrow it down to a select few including, but not limited to Macbeth, King Lear, Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and of course, Romeo and Juliet.

We cannot ignore the line we are dancing on with historical accuracy here, the Abbey Medieval Festival celebrates the Middle Ages, specifically Europe and the Middle East from 600 – 1600AD, thankfully for us we just touch on the English renaissance, and ‘as good luck would have it’ many of Shakespeare’s works are believed to have been penned in the late 1500s.

Come and see the House Troupe’s tribute this year!

Join the House Troupe to be a part of amazing shows like this, and many others!

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Woodland Walkers and Green Men

We often have people asking us what associations our beautiful woodland walkers have with Medieval history and reenactment, and you might be quite surprised at the reply. They represent a historical (fictional) figure known as the Green Man. If you have never encountered them before, our ‘Green Men’ like to walk gracefully around Abbeystowe during the festival, delighting visitors and posing for photographs, like this:

The figure of the Green Man appears to have it’s roots in carvings from the Messapotamic and Roman eras, but has also been seen in temples in India, Borneo and Nepal. He was used to bridge the gap between the old forms of worship and the new introduction of Christianity in the early Medieval period, although his appearances during this time were few.

From the late 11th century onwards his face became a carved decorative feature used on Churches and buildings of great importance. The Green Man is quite often linked the to the use of other decorative ornamentation used in the Gothic and Romanesque styles during the High Middle Ages, such as gargoyles, mythical beasts, demons, mermaids and green ‘women’. ‘Jack the Green Man’ was incorporated into village fetes and festivals which is why our woodland walkers fit right in at the Abbey Medieval Festival (why or how he was named Jack is still a bit of a mystery!)

Calling Actors and Actors-at-Heart.

 

Calling all actors and Actors-at Heart of South-East Queensland.

Want to Play?  In a Medieval Way of Course!

We are creating a wonderful addition to our retinue of fun for all of you at the Abbey Medieval Festival next year.

Wandering Theatre Troupes were a highly entertaining and enjoyable part of Medieval Life.

Groups of actors (often using the backs of carts and wagons) staged skits and small stories for the amusement and, it has to be said, education of all who watched.

Setting up shop meant just parking the wagon, and going for it.  Of course, the ‘family’ of the troupe were a huge mix of talent and ingenuity.

We are creating the Abbey Medieval Festival Theatre Troupe!

Auditions, rehearsals, and the beginnings of the preparations are all in full swing right now.

Are you a thwarted actor?  Are you passionate about having fun while joining with like-minded people and doing ‘Medieval Stuff’?

Are you a drama student, or one who has already been in acting troupes ‘back when’?

Have you always wanted to be on stage and not had the chance?

This will be a great addition to your resume, and to the stories you have to tell to your grandkids.  (Better yet, bring them along to watch you play.)

  • There’ll be specialized lighting from good old sol.
  • There’ll be a dressing room of sorts – we always find a way!
  • There’ll be authentic costumes made by our very own tireless magicians of sewing-volunteers.
  • There’ll be cameraderie galore as you join the over 200 to date volunteers who find they enjoy themselves here so much that they keep coming back year after year. We all love this – and are always happy to have more people to be with us.

All age groups are welcome to enquire and participate.  All manner of body shapes and sizes, experiences on stage or not… If you’re interested we want to hear from you!

Come play with us!

If you want to dress-up, have masses of fun, get up and strut your stuff, entertain audiences of thousands (we had over 35,000 people at the 2012 Festival week) be in the fresh air and have a huge time using your skills and interests, then we are looking for you.

We are calling for initial enquiries right now via email – Performance@abbeytournament.com

We are starting preparations and rehearsals at the beginning of October 2012.

We’d love you to join our ‘family’ of participants in the Abbey Medieval Festival if you’ve a mind to.

Go on, you know you want to. 🙂

Email us today.