Event Title

Robin Hood: There Will Be Tights (A Medieval Drama Production)

Authors

Helen P. Alev '17, Gettysburg College

John X. Borde '16 Gettysburg College

Alexandra C. Calder '16, Gettysburg College

Palmer A. Calgrias '16, Gettysburg College

Nicholas B. Cesare '16, Gettysburg College

Margaret R. Connolly '16, Gettysburg College

Megan L. DelRossi '16, Gettysburg College

Alessandra L. DeMartino '16, Gettysburg College

Jake A. Farias '16, Gettysburg College

Anika N. Jensen '18, Gettysburg College

Eva Karkuff '17, Gettysburg College

Craig A. Lindsley '16, Gettysburg College

Lindsay A. Maier '16, Gettysburg College

Erin M. Meachem '16, Gettysburg College

Nicholas O'Kane '16, Gettysburg College

Nicholas B. Papoutsis '17, Gettysburg College

Nicole H. Petrocchi '17, Gettysburg College

Isabella Rosedietcher '18, Gettysburg College

Blaney M. Rotanz '16, Gettysburg College

Peter K. Schwerin '16, Gettysburg College

Colin A. Scotch '17, Gettysburg College

Ben S. Sherbacow '17, Gettysburg College

Daniella M. Snyder '18, Gettysburg College

Meredith R. Tombs '16, Gettysburg College

Advisor: Christopher R. Fee, Gettysburg College

Location

West Patio of Breidenbaugh Hall

Session

Medieval Drama presents: Robin Hood & Other Outlaw Tales

Start Time

4-29-2016 4:00 PM

End Time

4-29-2016 5:15 PM

Supervising Faculty Member

Christopher Fee

Department

English

Keywords

Robin Hood, Sheriff of Nottingham, Guy of Gisborne, Medieval Drama, Popular Folk Drama, May Day Festivals, May King, Trickster, Outlaw, Burlesque, Slapstick, Improvisation, Mumming, Acrobats, Music, Dance, Tights, Yoga, Tumbling, Kick-lines, Cross-Dressing, Gender-Bending, Subversion, Gender Expectations, Humor, Monty Python, Benny Hill

Description

Through the staging of this production, the English 312 (Medieval Drama) class developed an academic understanding of the original spirit of five Robin Hood plays & ballads and translated these in a lively manner into contemporary idiom for a modern audience. Students in this course have translated and staged ten very different productions since 1999, and this was our first attempt at popular folk theater. Robin Hood was a wildly popular figure during the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, and was often the May King in spring celebrations that combined mumming, music, dance, games, and action-packed improvisational theatrics; in our production, we tried to add some of that festive flavor in in between various scenes. These plays are slapstick and involve broad burlesque humor we might recognize from Monty Python or Benny Hill or modern British pantomime, and involve a certain level of audience participation; our actors performed in front, behind, to the side, and within the audience, and active spectator engagement was encouraged. During the Middle Ages, performances like these might include an opportunity to give alms to the poor, thus manifesting the type of generosity often attributed to Robin Hood. In our production, we invited charitable donations of cash, clothing, and non-perishable food stuffs for our local soup kitchen, and we gathered a substantial volume of such donations. Although we tend to think of Robin Hood as the Outlaw with a Heart of Gold who robs from the rich to give to the poor, this is a fairly late understanding of this figure; during the Middle Ages, on the other hand, Robin Hood provided a mischievous protagonist who inverted the power structure; our plays reflected this theme. In mythological terms, Robin is a Trickster: Like all Tricksters, he is impish and he inverts authority. Tricksters are also associated with fecundity and the rebirth of the natural world and growing season, and are sometimes androgynous. Thus Robin’s role as the May King underscores his identity as a Trickster. In our production, this ambiguity was manifested both by men in tights and by women cast as men: “Robin” is, after all, a gender-neutral name, and so we had two men and one woman playing Robin Hood. Indeed, the “Men in Tights” aspect of the Robin Hood tradition lends itself so readily to humor in our culture precisely because gender-bending and cross-dressing in slapstick comedy both reflects and subverts common perceptions and stereotypes regarding gender; the reason the Monty Python boys are so quick to put a lad in a skirt for a quick laugh is that such humor exposes in a non-threatening way basic tensions in our culture regarding gender roles. The humor in our play stemmed in part from exploiting such tensions.

Streaming Media

 
Apr 29th, 4:00 PM Apr 29th, 5:15 PM

Robin Hood: There Will Be Tights (A Medieval Drama Production)

West Patio of Breidenbaugh Hall

Through the staging of this production, the English 312 (Medieval Drama) class developed an academic understanding of the original spirit of five Robin Hood plays & ballads and translated these in a lively manner into contemporary idiom for a modern audience. Students in this course have translated and staged ten very different productions since 1999, and this was our first attempt at popular folk theater. Robin Hood was a wildly popular figure during the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, and was often the May King in spring celebrations that combined mumming, music, dance, games, and action-packed improvisational theatrics; in our production, we tried to add some of that festive flavor in in between various scenes. These plays are slapstick and involve broad burlesque humor we might recognize from Monty Python or Benny Hill or modern British pantomime, and involve a certain level of audience participation; our actors performed in front, behind, to the side, and within the audience, and active spectator engagement was encouraged. During the Middle Ages, performances like these might include an opportunity to give alms to the poor, thus manifesting the type of generosity often attributed to Robin Hood. In our production, we invited charitable donations of cash, clothing, and non-perishable food stuffs for our local soup kitchen, and we gathered a substantial volume of such donations. Although we tend to think of Robin Hood as the Outlaw with a Heart of Gold who robs from the rich to give to the poor, this is a fairly late understanding of this figure; during the Middle Ages, on the other hand, Robin Hood provided a mischievous protagonist who inverted the power structure; our plays reflected this theme. In mythological terms, Robin is a Trickster: Like all Tricksters, he is impish and he inverts authority. Tricksters are also associated with fecundity and the rebirth of the natural world and growing season, and are sometimes androgynous. Thus Robin’s role as the May King underscores his identity as a Trickster. In our production, this ambiguity was manifested both by men in tights and by women cast as men: “Robin” is, after all, a gender-neutral name, and so we had two men and one woman playing Robin Hood. Indeed, the “Men in Tights” aspect of the Robin Hood tradition lends itself so readily to humor in our culture precisely because gender-bending and cross-dressing in slapstick comedy both reflects and subverts common perceptions and stereotypes regarding gender; the reason the Monty Python boys are so quick to put a lad in a skirt for a quick laugh is that such humor exposes in a non-threatening way basic tensions in our culture regarding gender roles. The humor in our play stemmed in part from exploiting such tensions.