Performing Arts & Dance: Pre-Shakespearean Drama

Ref: C2223560

This course offers an introduction to the vibrant drama of the middle ages. Starting with the Mystery Cycles of the northern cities, it then focuses on the drama of East Anglia, which was very different but just as fascinating and spectacular.

Course aim

This course provides an introduction the drama of the Middle Ages, exploring different styles of drama from the northern cities and East Anglia.

Who is the course for?

No previous knowledge or experience is needed to take this course.

What topics will this course cover

Topics covered by this course include: Mystery Cycles, Mummings and Indoor Drama, East Anglian Plays, the organisation of drama, parish fundraising, and Carnival and Protest drama.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. Identify different styles of drama from around Britain. 2. Define what made East Anglian drama unique. 3. Identify how drama was used for a variety of social reasons. 4. Evaluate the effectiveness of drama within various East Anglian communities.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Discussion and question-and-answer will form an important part of this course. Homework tasks will be set each week and followed up every session. There is also an expectation of making connections between themes in the early sessions and the later sessions.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

Note-taking equipment.

Reading and information sources

No preparation is necessary for this course, but the following books may be of interest: The Rise and Fall of Merry England: The Ritual Year 1400-1700, Ronald Hutton The Theater of Devotion, Gail McMurray Gibson The following website is interesting: Centre for Research into Early English Drama-

What could the course lead to?

This course will, hopefully, lead to attendance at productions of medieval plays, and an interest in theatre as a whole. It will also provide an introduction for futher studies in Further Education and at undergraduate level.

Download full course outline

Performing Arts & Dance: Pre-Shakespearean Drama Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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