Theatre – whether dramatic or musical (or both) – is often a great way to explore foreign situations to gain some insight into the atmosphere, emotion, and relationships.
Whether strictly historic or make believe, audiences can voyeuristically peer through the fourth wall before going home to mull over what they’ve experienced. Theatre has few special effects, no CGI. The characters are life sized. They visibly sweat. They can seem real in a way on-screen actors can rarely match.
[Mystery]plays originated as simple tropes, verbal embellishments of liturgical texts, and slowly became more elaborate. As these liturgical dramas increased in popularity, vernacular forms emerged, as traveling [sic] companies of actors and theatrical productions organised by local communities became more common in the later Middle Ages. (source: Wikipedia!)
You can read a longer essay on the development of medieval mystery, miracle and morality plays for even better background.
TV shows like Manchester Passion and the Liverpool Nativity embellished the biblical texts with modern songs and some contemporary twists to the characterisation. And a church in Shenley, England – with considerably fewer resources than the BBC – put on their own nativity last Christmas.
But a group of students are putting on a mystery play next Saturday – 30 May – beginning at 8pm in front of the main gates at Queens University. The Belfast Mystery Players describe it as a “promenade performance ... moving around the Queen’s campus”.
“The Belfast Mystery Players are a collaboration between postgraduate and undergraduate students in the schools of English and Drama (QUB) dedicated(ish) to the re-interpretation of medieval drama in the modern urban setting of Belfast.” [source: Facebook]
It’ll be free. So if you’re intrigued, head down next Saturday night and follow the action.