English students bring medieval play to streets of Belfast

English students bring medieval play to streets of Belfast

James McClintock as 'Mr Divino' (i.e. God), proprietor of 'Eden Fashions', during the performance in Royal Avenue

Four final-year students from the School of English have taken to the streets of Belfast to perform a medieval play.

James McClintock, Sarah Howells, Emma Martin and Romano Mullin performed a modern adaptation of the medieval play Adam and Eve in Belfast’s Royal Avenue as part of their module on Premodern Cultures of Performance, which looks at medieval street theatre and performance.

One of the module’s modes of assessment is to update plays for performance in site-specific situations in Belfast. The students collaborated with the Place initiative and the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival to put on the performance.

Speaking about the play, James McClintock said: “Centred in the pressurised world of high-end fashion, the play explores themes of consumerism, sexual politics and the superficiality of contemporary culture. Originally held as part of the Chester Corpus Christi Cycle, which tells the story of the bible through dramatic performances, we have been looking at transferring some of its common themes to our modern, secularised society.”

Dr Stephen Kelly from the School of English said: “Much medieval drama had a complex relationship with its spaces of performance; re-situating the drama in contemporary Belfast allows students to re-vitalise plays that appear to be bluntly didactic or unsophisticated theatrically.  This year we have had sombre morality play Everyman turned into a hilarious comedy of salvation in a promenade performance around the Queen’s campus; the play Mankind presented as a moving sketch at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting; and Adam and Eve, which drew quizzical spectators in a way only street performance can.”

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