Corpus Christi Plays and the Stations of the Cross: Medieval York and Modern Sydney


  • Margaret Rogerson


Theatre scholars have much to learn about medieval audience responses to the secular performance of religious drama in cities like York as well as actors' approaches to their roles. Although centuries apart, the Sydney Stations of the Cross for Catholic World Youth Day 2008 and the York Corpus Christi Plays have much in common. The audience and actors in Sydney exhibited what was known in the Middle Ages as 'affective piety'. Margery Kempe, a medieval mystic, who practiced an affective piety focused on the Passion, was both audience and actor in her imaginative engagement with the Stations. Her responses as audience and her involvement as actor are compared with audience and actor responses to the Sydney Stations. Observations of the event itself and evidence in the Compass television program on the making of the Stations show how this modern event enhances an understanding of the devotional theatre of the past.