What is the Pageant Wagon?
Some history regarding Medieval Theatre.
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.
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.
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!