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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Drama Video Clips

Medieval: Everyman

Description:

Everyman, the best example of a morality play, is presented in reader’s theater format in this video segment. Popular during the Middle Ages, morality plays used allegory to illustrate moral struggles. The characters in a morality play were personifications of good and evil and were usually involved in a struggle for a man’s soul. In Everyman, which was written around 1500, the complacent Everyman is informed by Death of his approaching end. He can persuade none of his companions—including Strength, Knowledge, Discretion, and Beauty—to go with him. Only Good Deeds will accompany him in death, pointing out the reality that we can take with us nothing from this world that we have received—only what we have given. Director Robert Pickering introduces the scene with contextual information; Everyman is portrayed by Spencer Christiansen.

Suggested Uses:

  • Show to introduce a lesson or unit on medieval drama or history.
  • Show along with the “Mummer’s Play” video excerpt to demonstrate allegory.
  • Have students give their own reader’s theater performances of this and other scenes from medieval drama.
  • Discuss how this play might be staged using a contemporary setting and characters.
  • Have students write and perform their own allegories using contemporary characters.
  • Have students brainstorm costume design ideas for the allegorical characters in the play.

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