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8 Dramatizing the Resurrection

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Chapter Summary

This essay is a comparison between ways of dramatizing the Resurrection in England and France. It establishes a core of items which are incorporated in many versions, short and long, as well as non-biblical elements which are frequently attached to the scriptural details. The experience of possible audiences who must have drawn upon existing recollected items is considered as well as the inclusion of musical and visual referents. The dramatic structure and development of the chosen plays are reviewed in order to illustrate the variety of the theatrical elements. Attention is paid to the reasons for including the Resurrection, which for some plays was a matter of defining, rehearsing or sustaining belief. Such material is relevant to the central item in Resurrection sequences, the moment when Christ rises from the tomb, and the way this is presented in the dramatic texts. The reticence with which this is treated is found to be one of the essential aspects of the dramatizations, which are largely influenced by versions in the Scriptures but are not entirely determined by them. This aspect of the plays is shown to be performed in ways which sustain the mystery inherent in it, and this is seen against a background of belief in what was familiar though it had a sustained spiritual reference.



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