Study Outside the Box – The “Modern” Staging of the Middle English Everyman

Irena Berovic, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf


This morall men may have in mynde.

Ye herers, take it of worth, olde and yonge,

Everyman, ll. 902 – 903

As part of the “Study Outside the Box” project at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf (Germany), my students and I pursued the production and live staging of the Middle English Morality play, Everyman. “Study Outside the Box” was a unique educational project organized by the English department and lasted one academic year. As the name already suggests, the project strove to rethink the traditional approaches to teaching and learning English literature through a series of interdisciplinary seminars. My colleagues, Gero Brümmer, Riad Nassar, and I worked closely together to offer an interdisciplinary range of seminars that would go beyond the usual scope of literary studies seminars offered in the BA degree English studies program. We intended our seminars to move away from the dominant form of higher education teaching, which Barr and Tagg identify as the “Instruction Paradigm,”[i] a form of teaching  limited to a “fairly passive lecture-discussion format where faculty talk and most students listen ….”[ii] Our aim was to engage with the students in unconventional ways that would not only give students new perspectives on the selected literature, but give the same to us, as educators, as well.[iii]

My contribution to the “Study Outside the Box” project was the seminar “All the World’s a Stage – Performing Drama” and it was aimed at third-year students of the English BA degree studies program. The syllabus focused on the late 15th-century Middle English Everyman and led up to a student performance of the play at the concluding conference of the “Study Outside the Box” project. My goal for teaching Everyman was to create a flexible and self-directing seminar that provided the students with a safe space for their ideas and encouraged them to relate to personal experiences.[iv] I strove towards making my students independent workers, confident in their abilities to discover knowledge and to solve problems on their own.[v] Studying Everyman „outside the box,“ therefore, meant the students would not only act out the play, but also deeply engage with the play’s motifs, characters and moral message by producing their own staging. The staging process resulted in a modern adaptation of Everyman and has provided me with valuable material, such as the documentation of the production and the recording of the performance itself. This essay is based on the results of the staging and offers a report on the project as well as an interpretation of the staging field-work using Bruno Latour’s notion of modernity from We Have Never been Modern.[vi]


“All the World’s a Stage – Performing Drama” as a Learning Project

I implemented the so-called „learning paradigm“ approach for the staging of Everyman, because it created an inventive and dynamic teaching and learning environment.[vii] Its implementation encouraged creativity among the students and allowed new ideas and innovation to flourish. Furthermore, this kind of energetic environment eliminated any kind of student passivity because it actively engaged them in the complete adaptation process for the play.[viii] The staging process, accordingly, became very practically oriented as the students were required to attend the seminar regularly (80% attendance), rework the Middle English text of Everyman into a proper script, participate in the performance backstage or on stage, and take part in the poster presentation at the “Study Outside the Box” student conference.

As can be seen from the syllabus (Appendix A), the 15-week semester consisted of eight weekly 90-minute seminars which were later replaced by biweekly 180-minute (and sometimes longer) rehearsals. These long rehearsals took place on weekends; the students chose this schedule. All of the students taking part in this project were highly motivated and wanted to deliver a quality performance at the end of the semester. They preferred weekend rehearsals because they felt more at ease and were not constrained by other classes or work obligations.

The syllabus also shows that the early phase of the staging process was based on discussions and less on prescriptive reading and instructions. We only read and talked about a small number of secondary texts throughout the semester because I wanted to give the students an independent space in which they could actively conceptualize their own adaptation. Consequently, a learning environment was created that centered on the students themselves rather than on subject matters such as genre distinctions or comparisons to other periods of English drama.[ix] Centering the learning on the students through the learning paradigm provided extensive discussions of Everyman that were not summaries of or considerations on academic secondary sources, but rather direct reflections on the study and associations of one’s own understanding and previous life experiences.[x] It was an interesting process during which each student came to conclusions about Everyman through their individual wisdom that had been shaped by their background made up of, for example, relationships with family and friends, their cultural heritage, or special interests such as arts, music, politics, ethics.

This approach proved to be highly successful: not only did the students successfully stage their adaptation of Everyman at a university with no drama department, but they also creatively re-functioned a new state of the art lecture hall into a theater hall. The staging was such a hit that the students were asked to perform a second time. I firmly believe that the success was due to the flexible seminar structure from which students worked. The learning paradigm provided three significant features that created a productive environment for the students, namely (1) high intensity of feedback and interaction, not just with me as the educator but also with classmates, (2) a sense of challenge because the students wanted to deliver a high quality performance, and (3) an awareness of personal engagement because each student was directly involved and had an individual task.[xi]


Modern Adaptation Process

The students of the “All the World’s a Stage – Performing Drama” seminar were free to explore various interpretations of Everyman. The large seminar group was divided into smaller groups and they each received a particular section of the Middle English Everyman to be re-written as a script for the staging. I advised the students, mediated disagreements, moderated discussions and recapitulated results. Additionally, the students had the artistic freedom to write their own script, design their own costumes and stage setting, and create their own characters.[xii] The students formed an interpretation of Everyman based on their own life experiences, which Brown calls the “learning from life process.”[xiii] They worked in small groups with classmates they felt comfortable with and the intimate setting of these smaller groups allowed the students to really delve into their previous knowledge and personal experience.

The learning from life process consisted of two phases. In the first phase, called “reflection and integration,”[xiv] the students read Everyman and we discussed the play and a small number of secondary sources to establish an academic starting point (the sources are listed on the syllabus, Appendix A, part 2). These discussions were a mixture of small student group considerations during their independent work time and our seminar discussions, and they were always very lively and highly productive because the students were able make decisions that took them one step further in the staging process. Accordingly, the aim of the first four seminar weeks was to critically dismantle the play during the group discussions and to single out all relevant characters, motifs and morals. Then the students were encouraged to reconsider Everyman, drawing upon their own experiences and previous interactions. The kind of experiences the students related to Everyman were every day instances of moral behavior that reflected an awareness of their actions: did I treat someone fairly, and if not, how will that affect me? Did I just do something “bad” and will karma get me back for it? Should I really buy myself that expensive cell phone, or could I put the money to better use? Should I indulge in the happy hour specials or is one drink enough? These examples reflect the students’ desire to be virtuous and are, therefore, closely related to Everyman’s image of the good Christian. The students extracted what they called the moral-to-be-learned-from-the-play, namely, that what matters most is leading a morally positive, gratifying life – a good life.

It was very important and highly constructive to give each of the student groups an allotted time and separate space in the lecture hall to discuss the morality of the play. Within these more intimate groups, the students could freely share their thoughts and opinions. I participated in each group by taking notes on their discussions without entering them. I encouraged the students to talk openly about what they thought morality meant and what moral issues were currently relevant to them. It was also important to ask the students to consider the ways they could relate to Everyman and its motifs, and to fully engage them in the learning from life process by accessing their own experiences, their own outlooks on faith, and their personal opinions on virtue and judgement.

Once I had taken notes of all the student groups’ discussions, I joined the groups again and this time, the group and I made a detailed summary of their discussion and their conclusions. Then I asked all the students to come together as a class and we reviewed these discussion results. However, I presented the observations, interpretations and conclusions gathered through the smaller discussions rather than have the students present the results themselves. In order to safeguard the students’ vulnerability, I left their personal experiences and private opinions anonymous. In this way, the students were able to objectively assess the results without personally criticizing their classmates.

My students were now in the second phase and prepared to stage their adaptation of Everyman. [xv] They re-assembled the dismantled play into their own staging in the few weeks prior to our scheduled rehearsals (weeks 5, 6, and 7 in Appendix A, part 2). Applying the results from the first phase, the students had to direct the knowledge they had gained during phase 1 as pertaining to matters of script, actors, costumes and stage setting. Important questions to be answered were, for example:

  • should the Middle English script be kept or rewritten?
  • Who will act the lines on stage?
  • Who would rather work behind the scenes, responsible for such things as filming, lighting or music?
  • Who will provide the costumes and props?
  • What will the stage design look like?

My students decided to rework the script, its language, and its characters. Although the adaptation was a modern one, the overall structure of an allegorical Everyman judged by God remained the same. Just like the Middle English play, the modern adaptation, too, illustrated Everyman’s ignorance of a good life defined by moral behavior and his subsequent summoning by a figure representing death. The students created a mixture of their own extracted moral (only a morally correct life is a good life) and the Middle English play’s depiction of the Christian belief that a person can influence his or her fate in the afterlife by being virtuous on earth.

The Christian belief in influencing the afterlife, as Walker states, stands for “two antipathetic forces, the desire to know God and behave as He desires, represented by the higher form of reason, and the drive towards pleasure and self-gratification, represented by the senses and the flesh, … .”[xvi] The importance and meaning of the afterlife may not be the same to everyone in a modern, secularized society, but the fluctuation between knowing what is right and giving in to a desire is a conflict the students were immediately able to relate to. The students incorporated the connection between earthly life and afterlife because they felt that it illustrated a relevant modern conflict. If the medieval person was “fundamentally conflicted,” the modern person, too, fluctuates between indulgences, gratifications and luxuries.[xvii] The modern person has to identify what is morally right by observing an inner moral compass as well as societal and institutionalized norms and laws of government just as much as the medieval person did.

It is important to highlight that Everyman proved to be especially suitable for a staging project: while Middle English mystery and miracle plays focus on biblical narratives and the miraculous deeds of saints and their intercessions, the morality play Everyman is not tied to the theocentric society of the Middle Ages. Mystery and miracle plays are closely related to the Christian liturgical calendar and respective medieval social structures of urban and guild systems, which may be too ecclesiastically-oriented and inaccessible for a modern, multicultural student body.[xviii] Everyman, on the other hand, has proven to be “much more diversified and capable of change” as well as able to adjust “to economic, social and political shifts … .”[xix] Consequently, Everyman was an accessible text and was socially topical for performers and audience alike. The adaptability of Everyman’s moral lesson to different environments made it an approachable and rewarding text for my students.

In individual conversations, the students taking part in the staging revealed that they had a variety of different relationships with religion; they ranged from atheists to baptized Christians or non-Christians (e.g. Muslims). Therefore, it was not the Christian message of God’s judgment that appealed to the students, but the underlying morality of what constitutes a good life. They drew on their knowledge and experiences to formulate an interpretation of the play rather than reverting to the usual method of comparing and contrasting the fixed specifications of medieval and modern forms of drama.

It was in the students’ ability to apply their understanding to the play that I observed the practices of translation and purification which they used to make their staging modern. The translation and purification practices are the principal processes of Bruno Latour’s concept of modernity and they define the state of being modern. For Latour, the adjective „modern“ is “doubly asymmetrical: it designates both a break in the regular passage of time, and a combat in which there are victors and vanquished.”[xx] Translation and purification are two practices which

must remain distinct if they are to remain effective, but have recently begun to be                  confused. The first set of practices, by ‘translation’, creates mixtures between entirely                     new types of beings, hybrids of nature and culture. The second, by ‘purification’, creates                         two entirely distinct ontological zones: that of the human beings on the one hand; that of                  nonhumans on the other. Without the first set, the practices of purification would be                             fruitless or pointless. Without the second, the work of translation would be slowed down,             limited, or even ruled out. . . .

So long as we consider these two practices of translation and purification                              separately, we are truly modern . . . [xxi]


A hybrid is, for example, the right to freeze a woman’s ova in order to be able to conceive at a later age in life and, therefore, it mixes science and society (nature – culture).[xxii] Purification, on the other hand, is the exact opposite: it is the process by which these two realms are separated: if a woman decides to have a child at a later age and cannot conceive (and has not frozen ova to fall back upon), then nature has been separated from culture.

The asymmetry and the break in time Latour describes is found in the students’ decision to adapt Everyman into a modern context and translate it into a mixture of modern and medieval. The decision was based on the conjecture that a modern audience would be too unfamiliar with the Middle English morality play. The students felt the danger of perplexing the audience rather than instructing them in lessons of morality was too great and decided to make the adaptation modern so that the audience could better relate to the play. They created asymmetry through translation, that is, combining modern language, modern costumes, modern music and a modern stage design with the theocentric structure of divine judgement of the Middle English Everyman. The purification practice, however, enabled them to keep God as the instrument of judgement. It is part of the purification process, because including representations of God and death stands for the separation of nature – culture: the depiction of death as well as of God is a cultural one and is clearly separated from its natural form. Both representations in the students’ modern adaptation are are symbolic of “the crossed-out God of metaphysics” and take on a role of agency rather than the role of ecclesiastic judgment and authority of the medieval play.[xxiii]


The Translation Practice

The modern staging of the medieval Everyman is the best illustration of how hybrids of nature and culture were created. The translation practice allowed the students to take features of the Middle English play and redesign them in a modern context. Accordingly, they extracted properties from Everyman they thought could be most successfully adapted in a modern staging through careful considerations of the work done in the previous phases. . The students had identified various features of Everyman, such as characters, motifs, the moral and the language and script and they later chose which of the features would be included in their modern adaptation.

The first features to be adapted were script and stage design. The students observed that Everyman contained very few stage instructions. Examples include minor directives such as “{Exit.},” “God speketh.” or “{Enter} Dethe,+.”, “{Exit God.}.”[xxiv] The Middle English Everyman is essentially a “simple [play], … which requires a relatively small cast and a simple stage,” but the students, nevertheless, decided to give their characters very specific stage instructions in the script (see Appendix B).[xxv] Another change they made to the script was the number and choice of encounters Everyman had. The medieval play has as many as seventeen “Dramatis Personae” of which only nine were selected for the modern staging.[xxvi] Based on the selection of the nine characters, seven distinct acts were created:

  • Act 1 Prologue
  • Act 2 Friendship
  • Act 3 Friendship
  • Act 4 Goods
  • Act 5 Screening of short film adaptation
  • Act 6 Repentance
  • Act 7 Death.[xxvii]

In terms of stage design, the students decided to give each of the acts and its characters an individual setting and background. The decision to individualize the stage and setting created so-called “background expectancies,” features that act as points of reference for the modern audience.[xxviii] Medieval Everyman is “played out in a virtual space, for the most part outside of time and geography”[xxix] and the background expectancies were an important part of creating a setting that the modern audience could relate to.Therefore, the translation of Everyman’s morality for a modern context and audience meant creating a setting that was familiar. For example, Act 1 Prologue was set in a restaurant where Everyman could indulge in gluttonous, proud behavior; Act 3 Family was set in a living room; Act 4 Goods took place in a bank. The background expectancies were further implemented through the addition of music that was complementary to the plot (see Appendix C). The music was added to set the mood of each act and it highlighted Everyman’s distinct emotional states after every encounter. It was a way of exteriorizing his feelings. Also, the music served as a convenient interlude to change the stage design in between acts.

The next features to be adapted were the students’ portrayals of the medieval allegorical characters. One example is the re-hybridization of Messenger into the Hostess of the restaurant in which the first act was set. Similar to Messenger, the Hostess introduces the play, and she became a mixture of modern and medieval features: she talks in verse, which displaces her from a modern setting, while her contemporary costume and stage instructions (being a restaurant hostess) anchor her in modernity. I intentionally call this a “re-hybridization” because allegorical characters are already hybrids since they are a mixture of culture and nature. The students had to first de-hybridize them which meant a deconstruction of the allegories into distinct categories of nature and culture was necessary. Then, they re-hybridized them into characters a modern audience could recognize and relate to while keeping the same function as in the Middle English play (see details of the examples given below in Appendix B). This was the direct result of our deconstruction of Everyman in the first phase of the staging, and I’ve previously referred to it as the dismantling of the medieval play and the reassembling into the modern adaptation.

Another example of the re-hybridization of allegorical characters is Kinrede. The allegorical Kinrede is acted in the original by one person, but the students decided to hybridize Kinrede into a family of four: Everyman and his father, mother and sister. The mixture of culture and nature is evident in the respective portrayals of each family member as they all allude to contemporary cultural stereotypes: the father in a tracksuit, Adidas slippers, watching TV; the mother in a house gown reading a tabloid magazine; the sister listening to music on her cell phone. Though these characters were modern portrayals, they still had the same function as the allegorical ones: to focus attention on the morality of the play.

The last example I want to give for the translation practice is the re-hybridization of Goodes into a Banker. The students felt that a bank teller would be the best modern representation of the allegory Goodes as the teller figure, a materially-oriented person. Dressed in a black suit and swiping Everyman’s bank card, the Banker echoes Goodes by telling Everyman that material possessions will not help him in his judgment by God.


The Purification Practice

As previously described, the purification practice separates nature and culture as it establishes two ontological zones.[xxx] Everyman, Dethe and God are the three allegorical characters that were not re-hybridized through the translation practice. Everyman had to stay an every-man so that the universal representation of mankind could remain effective. However, by translating Kinrede into a distinct family of four, by translating Felawshype into two best friends and Goodes into a bank teller, Everyman was simultaneous purified as he became less figurative, less ambiguous and more accessible; he became less the allegorical figure Everyman and more the friend, brother or the self the students could relate to. This simultaneous purification embedded him in a fictional life with which the seminar students and the audience alike could identify.

God and Dethe, however, are the two allegorical characters that were intentionally purified and therefore un-hybridized. The students created the separation of nature and culture when they purified the natural constructions of God (force behind life) and death (end of life) into man-made, culturally constructed portrayals. Their function in the structure of the modern adaptation remained the same as in the medieval play, but they lost their theocentric orientation and became secular portrayals of natural agencies. Everyman’s God thus became cultural construction that represented a normative judgment instead of the Christian God denoting nature as the force of life through the Creator himself. God’s emphasis was no longer on the judgment of souls and their fate in the afterlife, but God rather became a manner of normative judgement. Similar to the function of jurors in a court, God was a “decision making body [that] has the task of deciding the legally enforceable situation that exists between contenders [which is also known as the verdict].”[xxxi] Just like a jury, the God of the modern staging progressed through three phases in which he first identified the wrongdoing and its extent, then identified the blame and finally decided the corrective measure and, therefore, became a cultural construct.[xxxii]

Furthermore, the students’ modern God was not a character staged by an actor, but instead a character marked by the absence of form. Whereas in the Middle English staging of Everyman an actor in a high seat would have been the stage portrayal of God,[xxxiii] the modern staging showed the judicial God as shapeless and yet omnipresent as God was portrayed as a voice and a video.

The students of the “Creative Film Analysis II” seminar, who had also worked on Everyman as their study text, had made a 2-minute long video sequence which consisted of short clips taken from news reports, music videos and TV commercials.[xxxiv] The video included among others footage footage from 9/11, the tsunami in Japan in 2005, the war in Afghanistan, but also clips from advertising or sexually explicit music videos. The video sequence was underlined with dramatic music and audio overlays to highlight the negative state modern humanity is in and it draws a connection to Everyman’s Christian morality with overlays such as “Well, I can think for myself; maybe I don’t need to believe in God to be a good person,” said by a Secular Student Alliance Member in a CNN interview.

As part of the collaboration between the two seminars, my students from the “All the World’s a Stage – Performing Drama” seminar decided to incorporate this video sequence as part of the portrayal of God. God’s accusation against mankind in lines 21 to 63 of Everyman was completely cut and the video sequence was used instead. My students felt that the video set

the tone of a declining morality of today’s world, corrupted by war, murder, greed, and indicated the moral decay of Everyman, the symbolic representative of humanity. It was a very interesting transformation practice of God, but one that was very effective: especially the parts documenting violence in every day life, or starving children followed by clips from a hotdog eating contest or people standing in line for the newest IPhone caused quite the discomfort and even some teary eyes.

The meeting of Dethe and God in lines 64 to 71 after God’s accusation was also changed from the original (see Appendix B). For this scene, the students decided to portray God as only a bright light and a voice. We had set up a small partition behind which we put a spotlight attached to the top of a ladder and as the lights were lowered, Dethe stood in front of this light shinning from above talking to a formless God. The student acting God’s part had a microphone and was able to deliver her lines from the backstage area.

Dethe also became a cultural construction through the purification practice, because the students chose to portray Dethe as a femme fatale in Act 1 and as a heartbeat in Act 7. Both portrayals were playful, temporary but highly ceremonialized modifications of Dethe that symbolized a separation of nature and culture within the modern staging.[xxxv] The femme fatale was additionally used to highlight Everyman’s corrupted morality, willing to make advances on any attractive woman, even Death herself. The portrayal of Dethe as a heartbeat on a heartbeat monitor projected above the stage and as a femme fatale both exteriorized an interior process. They are both cultural representations of a natural process. Natural death is interior, intangible for humans, but it becomes tangible through purification. The interior process of dying was exteriorized into an audible and visual heartbeat that eventually flatlines and marks the moment of Everyman’s death in the staging.


Closing Statement

The evaluation of the staging of the modern Everyman has shown how the method of the seminar allowed my students to freely explore possible interpretations and representations of the Middle English play. My seminar sought to create a student-focused learning environment rather than one treating the current state of academic research, and the flexibility of the learning paradigm I implemented was able to achieve this. As part of the learning project “Study Outside the Box,” the staging of Everyman gave students the opportunity to identify and formulate knowledge for themselves.

Approaching Middle English drama through the staging of a performance guaranteed that all students would contribute and allowed them to learn through their individual strengths.[xxxvi] Students’ learning through their  own strengths was important because the students could all fully participate according to their perceived areas of expertise: the outgoing students were willing to act on stage and to learn lines for their roles while timid students contributed the essential tasks of overseeing costumes, props, lighting and music.[xxxvii] All students were highly motivated to write their own scripts and the smaller student groups in which  students  could choose their partners and feel comfortable worked well. This highly immersive mode of learning was challenging and, contrary to some opinions, very work-intensive.[xxxviii]

I strongly agree with Tolhurst’s claim that “performance projects are also one possible means of ‘defending the labour-intensive specificities of humanities teaching and scholarship’ by getting students to perform that labour in a creative and enjoyable way.”[xxxix] The students were highly enthusiastic and took the staging very seriously. They used their seminar times productively and even agreed to have biweekly rehearsals at the weekends instead of the weekly 90-minute seminars. Some may argue that the free structures of the learning paradigm encourage a no more than a moderate student involvement or an atmosphere that is too relaxed, but this teaching experiment has shown that a free and student-centered methodology can be very successful, too. Especially Everyman has turned out to be a very rewarding text for such a project, because the flexibility of the play itself and its openness to times other than the one in which it was composed have made it accessible and topical for our students, as performers and audience alike.




[i] Robert Barr and John Tagg, “From Teaching to Learning – a New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education,” Change 27, no. 6 (1995): 13.

[ii] Alan Guskin, “Reducing Student Costs and Enhancing Student Learning: The University Challenge of the 1990s. Part Ii: Restructuring the Role of Faculty,” Change 26, no. 5 (1994): 20. In Barr and Tagg, 13.

[iii] Guskin, in Barr and Tagg, ibid.

[iv] Barr and Tagg, 15. Barr and Tagg call a self-directing and flexible learning environment “the learning paradigm” in contrast to the “instruction paradigm.”

[v] Ibid., 15.

[vi] Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern, trans. Catherine Porter (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993).

[vii] Barr and Tagg, 15.

[viii] Guskin, 20.

[ix] Fiona Tolhurst, “Why We Should Teach – and Our Students Perform – the Legend of Good Women,” in Teaching Chaucer, ed. Lousie Sylvester and Gail Ashton (Houndsmill, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 56.

[x] Barr and Tagg, 17.

[xi]  Guskin, 19.

[xii] Tolhurst, 52.

[xiii] Scott Brown, “Learning across the Campus: How College Facilitates the Development of Wisdom,” Journal of College Student Development 35, no. 2 (2004): 139. See also Fiona Tolhurst, 52. Tolhurst notes that the aim of an acting project is “to make the group’s interpretation of the text visible to an audience.”

[xiv] Ibid, Brown, 139.

[xv] Brown calls this second phase „application” (139).

[xvi] Walker, “Religion and Conscience: The Moral Plays,” in Medieval Drama – an Anthology (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2000), 209.

[xvii] Walker states that “the medieval self was fundamentally conflicted and it was was the business of the Morality drama to explore that conflict and influence its resolution“ (209).

[xviii] Robert Weiman, “Iv. Moralities and Interludes,” in Shakespeare and the Popular Tradition in the Theater: Studies in the Spacial Dimension of the Dramatic Form and Function (Baltimore, USA: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), 98. My multi-cultural student body was composed of students of various religions and political convictions.  However observant some of the students were, none of the ones I interviewed observed the liturgical calendar or were very familiar with it.

[xix] Ibid.

[xx] Latour, 10.

[xxi] Ibid., 10 – 11. I explored this theoretical aspect of translation and purification at the “The Middle Ages in Britain” conference held at the Justus-Liebig-Universtität Gießen. My talk questioned the relationship between medievalism and modernity in the students’ modern adaptation of Everyman and has been published as “The Trans-Medial Everyman,” in Beyond Borders A Medieval History of Art Blog, edited by Bojkovsky, Gerace, Lamaute, Tuttle, 2015 <>

[xxii] Ibid., 2.

[xxiii] Ibid., 33. Latour states that through the purification practice, “Modern men and women could thus be atheists even while remaining religious. They could invade the material world and freely re-create the social world, but without experiencing the feeling of an orphaned demiurge abandoned by all.”

[xxiv] “Everyman,” in Medieval Drama – an Anthology, Greg Walker, ed. (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2000), ll. 21 – 72.

[xxv] Ibid., 281.

[xxvi] Ibid., 282.

[xxvii] The seminar taught by my colleague Riad Nassar, “Creative Film Analysis II,”, also tackled a modern adaptation of Everyman. Riad Nassar and I had decided to pursue the adaptation of the same medieval text prior to the start of the seminars and his students contributed a 2-minute video sequence that was used as the introduction to the play and screened before Act 1. They also contributed a 10-minute short film that formed the climax of Everyman, namely his encounters with Good Dedes, Knowledge, Confession, Beaute, Strength, Discrecion and Fyve Wittes. Using different settings such as stylized rooms, natural landscapes or night shoots, the film adaptation group had many more possibilities than our staging of Everyman in a lecture hall. We had to keep the stage setting very simple and practical, because the lecture hall we rehearsed in was used as a regular lecture hall and we could not leave our props there and design elaborate stage settings. Combining the two projects seemed like a appropriate “outside the box” performance experiment, with the aim to compare the two adaptations at first. We quickly decided to collaborate instead and to include the screening of the film in our staging because while we lacked resources, the film group lacked the time to adapt the full play, and contributed the 10-minute video (which took the whole semester to make) as the dramatic climax of the staging.

[xxviii] Harold Garfinkel, Studies in Ethnomethodology (Engelwood Cliffs, USA: Prentice Hall, 1967), 36.

[xxix] Greg Walker, “Religion and Conscience: The Moral Plays,” in Medieval Drama – an Anthology (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2000), 210.

[xxx] Latour, 10 – 11.

[xxxi] Garfinkel, 104.

[xxxii] Ibid., 104 – 105.

[xxxiii] “Everyman,” in Medieval Drama, 281.

[xxxiv] Examples included footage from 9/11, the tsunami in Japan in 2005, the war in Afghanistan, but also footage from a hotdog-eating contest, children playing with plastic guns or sexually explicit music videos.

[xxxv] Garfinkel, 116.

[xxxvi] Tolhurst, 51.

[xxxvii] Ibid.

[xxxviii] L. M. Findlay, “Reading and Teaching Troilus and Otherwise: St. Maure, Chaucer, Henryson,” Florilegium 16 (1999): 64.

[xxxix] Tolhurst, 61. Tolhurst here quotes Findlay in part.