Landscape, Movement, and Civic Mimesis in the West of England


  • James Stokes University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point



The cycle plays are usually taken to be the exemplar form for civic and guild-sponsored drama in cities and towns, but those that survive were essentially a northern and eastern phenomenon. Civic and guild-sponsored entertainments in the south-west of England took a different form that involved troupes, mock battles, patterned movement over the landscape, and plays or shows that integrated history and pseudo-history, combining elements taken from religion, mythology, and historical traditions, both national and local. This form, the article argues, deserves to be recognized as being more widespread and representative than were the cycle plays, and therefore also deserves to be included in surveys that discuss medieval and early modern drama. Further, since the form was replicated, in Somerset, in cities, towns, and villages alike, it offers valuable evidence demonstrating the cohesion of pre-Reformation culture.