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Medieval life in music, dance and drama
Gaudeamus - meaning 'Let us rejoice' - aims to give a flavour of medieval life and culture. It is a colourful, acted programme of medieval sonds, chants, dances, poems, instrumental music and extracts from drama.
This is not the recreation of a specific, documented event. It is rather a sampling of late medieval music, literature and dance from roughly 1200 to 1500. 'Gaudeamus' is set around life on a large estate in the southern half of England around 1400. The participants wear 14th/15th Century clothing.
The medieval writer Christine de Pizan commented that if a great Lady's husband should go away on a perilous journey, the Lady should have people pray for him in processions. And on his return, she should organise a joyous welcome. These ideas give us our theme. It generates moments of reflection, of high activity, and of more statuesque tableaux.
The first half of our production sees the Lady running the estates in her husband's absence - a quite usual event at the time. Extracts from medieval literature (translated into modern English) tell what was expected of a Lady. But there are also various entertainments for her.
The second half represents her husband's return, again based on documentary evidence of civic 'entries'. The celebrations are intruded upon by a 'Woodwose' - a wild man of the woods - who features in some manuscript illuminations of similar celebrations.
See the cast from the 17/11/2001 production.