Internet Shakespeare Editions


The drama suppressed

From the Roxburghe Ballads. University of Victoria Library.

During the early years of the Christian dominance of the Western world, the existing forms of drama were suppressed. The main reason for this action was that the plays and public performances (like the Roman games) preserved values no longer acceptable to the new Christian beliefs.

But it was also true that the rituals of the young church were themselves highly dramatic, and it is not hard to see why the rival attractions of a secular drama should be suppressed in favour of the religious re-enactment of crucial events in the life of Christ contained in many Christian rituals. Baptism symbolically re-enacts the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist, the mass re-enacts the Last Supper, and the many festivals in the church year become, in effect, an annual drama re-enacting the life of Christ.