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September 22 , 2009

The Chester Cycle in Context, 1555–1575

Religion, Drama, and the Impact of Change


The Chester Cycle in Context, 1555-1575 considers the implications of recent archival research which has profoundly changed our view of the continuation of performances of Chester's civic biblical play cycle into the reign of Elizabeth I. Scholars now view the decline and ultimate abandonment of civic religious drama as the result of a complex network of local pressures, heavily dependent upon individual civic and ecclesiastical authorities, rather than a result of a nation-wide policy of suppression, as had previously been assumed.

Approaching individual plays in the Chester cycle in the light of this new understanding, this volume investigates how new sources shift and clarify our understanding of the last years of cycle's performance. Contributors analyze how the city attempted to preserve its dramatic traditions by making adjustments to the plays in the face of protestant objections to the stage portrayal of such concepts as transubstantiation, the life of the Virgin Mary, or such apocryphal stories as the midwives at the nativity. Many of the essays focus on the performance of 1572 which took place despite the objections of the bishop of Chester and in the face of complaints from protestant churchmen and citizens.

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