Medieval, Tudor, and Commedia Plays&Playwrights

A Brief Description of Medieval Theatre

Medieval Theatre


Hrosvitha was one of the most notable playwrights during the medieval time period. She was born 935 A.D and died in the year 1000. She was classified in being an early medieval dramatist and chronicler and she was a famous nun of Gandersheim who lived during the time period of emperor Otto the Great. Moreover, most of her writing consisted in rhymed prose and they were meant to provide edification for her sister nuns. Hrosvitha’s works embodied Christian themes and they were also meant for reading rather than performance. Not only is she a famed playwright during the medieval period, she was one of the first female playwrights while being a cononess, poet, dramatist and historian. Her famous plays were “The Life Story of the Blessed Virgin”, “The Fall and Conversion of Theophilus, “The Martyrdom of Saint Agnes”, poems concerning the First Cenobites at Gandersheim, and “The Acts of Otto I”. Most of her works were written in Latin.

john suckling

Suckling was born at Whitton, between Twickenham and Hounslow, Middlesex, on February 10, 1609.Suckling matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1623 but left without taking a degree in 1626. Just eighteen years old, he pursued a military and ambassadorial career in the Low Countries, and joined the English soldiers serving in the army of Gustavus Adolphus during the Thirty Years’ War. It was much influenced by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and is generally thought to be Suckling’s best.he was the author of this play, Why so pale and wan, fond lover?”

Adam de la Halle

Adam de la Halle was French. He wrote a musical play, “The Play of Robin and Marion.”
…As court poet and musician to the Count d’Artois, he visited Naples and became famous for his polyphony as well as his topical productions, which are considered the predecessors of comic opera. Jeu de Robin et de Marion is a dramatization of the pastoral theme of a knight’s wooing of a pretty shepherdess, with dances and peasants’ dialogue. Jeu du pélérin…

Tudor Drama

Nicholas Udall

Nicholas Udall
was an English playwright, cleric, and schoolmaster. Udall He lived through the years 1504-1556 and his original name was “Woodall”, however, he Latinized it as Udallus, and thence Anglicized it as Udall. He was famed during the Tudor Drama and wrote many famous works. One of his most famous plays that he written is “Ralph Roister Doister”, and because it was his most credible piece of work, it is inferred that he had performed it for Queen Mary as entertainment around 1553. Also, his comedy was regarded as the first of its genres written in the English language. Nicholas Udall was also the author of a Latin textbook while using its material for his comedy as well as the works by the Roman poet Terence. Udall also translated different works, like “Apopthegms” by Eramus and Pietro Martire’s “Discourse on the Eucharist” and Thomas Gemini’s “Anatomia”

Ben johnson


Ben Jonson was born in 1572 in London, England. He was a father, minister, and a very famous play righter. Jonson wrote several plays including “Every Man in His Humor”, “Volpone”, and “Alchemist” which were among the most popular of his plays. His admirers called themselves the “Tribe of Ben” which met regularly at the Mermaid Tavern and later on at the Devil’s Head. Jonson was friends with several of the other famous writers of his day including people such as Shakespeare, John Donne, and Francis Bacon. In 1637 Jonson died and a tremendous crowd of mourners attended his burial at Westminster Abbey.

EveryMan in His Humor (among the most popular)


Christopher Marlow (26 February 1564 – 30 May 1593) was an English Dramatic play writer, poet and translator of his time. The era was the Elizabethan Era. William Shakespeare was the man who influenced him. Marlowe died of a mysterious early death. A warrant for Christopher’s arrest was issued. No one knows why. People think it was for blasphemy. He wrote the Plays Dido, Queen of Carthage (c.1586), Tamburlaine, part 1 (c.1587), Tamburlaine, part 2 (c.1587–1588), The Jew of Malta (c.1589), Doctor Faustus (c.1589, or, c.1593), Edward II (c.1592) and The Massacre at Paris (c.1593).

Commedia dell’Arte


The world is a beautiful book, but of little use to him who cannot read it”.

Carlo Goldoni.

Carlo Goldoni was born in 1707 in Venice, Italy and died in Paris, France in 1793. Goldoni uses the term ‘La commedia dell’arte in his play Il teatro comico “Comic Theatre”. He was a famous Italian playwright who was also most criticized by other playwrights like Carlo Gozzi due to how Goldoni has “neglected” poetry and “imagination” in drama due to his interest in comedy. Since he subsided in Paris, he wrote Le Bourru bienfaisant on the occasion of Louis XVI’s marriage to Marie Antoinette. Most of his works and memoirs were written by him and had the utmost liveliness, carless, light-hearted while being respectable and high-quality amount of work. This may be partly explained by the absence in comedy of a literary style which at the same time was national. Goldoni gave to his country a classical form, which, though it has since been cultivated, has never been cultivated by a master. Goldoni also attempted to write a dramatic play called Amalasunta, however, it was unsuccessful. Goldoni wrote over 250 plays and consisted of masked characters of la commedia dell’arte or comedies of manners/comedies of errors (without masks); L’adulatore, “The Flatterer”
L’amante di se medesimo, “The Lover of Himself”
Gli amanti timidi o sia L’imbroglio de’ due ritratti, “The Shy Lovers” or “The Affair of the Two Portraits”
L’amore paterno o sia La serva riconoscente, “Paternal Love” or “The Grateful Maidservant”
Gli amori di Alessandro Magno, “The Loves of Alexander the Great”
Gli amori di Zelinda e Lindoro, “The Love of Zelinda and Lindoro”
Les amours d’Arlequin et de Camille, “The Love of Harlequin And Camilla”
L’amante militare, “The Military Lover” are just some of his works.



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