'Players' in Context

Determining Performance in Medieval Accountancy Records


  • Mark Chambers University of Durham




Medieval and early modern drama, performance, accounts


Arguably the largest source of REED material of their kind so far collected, the accounts of Durham’s medieval monastic community provide evidence for plays, music, and performers from around the palatinate, including payments to istriones, joculatores, and ministralli performing for various occasions. With accountancy material, however, it can be difficult deciding if individual entries represent evidence of performers or performances per se, or what the nature of any performance might have been. This essay examines these issues in Durham’s accountancy records, looking particularly at Finchale Priory’s so-called ‘playerchambre’: instances in which evidence of ‘performance’ is uncertain and/or only determinable by wider consideration of context.

Author Biography

Mark Chambers, University of Durham

Mark Chambers (mcchambers92@gmail.com) is a teaching fellow and lecturer in the University of Durham's Department of English Studies and a member of the Records of Early English Drama North-East project team (http://community.dur.ac.uk/reed.ne/). He is co-editing, with John McKinnell, the forthcoming REED collection for County Durham, and has recent articles on early drama in Medieval English Theatre 41 (2019) and European Medieval Drama 24 (2020).






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