The FCLC Medieval Dramatists, comprised of the students of Professor Andrew Albin's ENGL 3102: Medieval Drama in Performance, made their debut on April 26 at Summit Rock in Central Park (83rd Street & Central Park West) with their performance of the fifteenth-century morality play Everyman. Their production, free to the public, told the story of Everyman, who finds himself on Death’s doorstep and in need of guidance before he goes to meet his Maker. As he travels the road to the grave, Everyman encounters those things dearest to him and comes face to face with the choices he has made during his life. Everyman represented the culmination of ENGL 3102’s semester-long immersion in the dramatic texts and traditions of late medieval England; the result was a medieval play reinvented for modern audiences, one that melds festivity, community, and ethical searching with comedic flair and New York savvy.
The production was inspiring, to say the least. Designed and realized from the ground up by the FCLC Medieval Dramatists, the performance of Everyman loosely modeled itself on medieval modes of play-making. Over the course of the spring semester, students worked as a tight-knit collective to read, discuss, adapt, and stage the play, with recourse to the wealth of talents they each brought to the playing space. Guided by Professor Albin, students read deeply into the corpus of medieval English drama in the original Middle English, accompanied by works of criticism, theater history, and modern critical dramaturgy. For the performance of Everyman, though, Prof. Albin took a back seat, facilitating students in their own creative exploration of the play they themselves chose to perform.
Though Everyman perishes at the end of the play, the Medieval Dramatists’s Everyman promises to have a life beyond its performance on April 26. Students recorded the live performance to create a film that will form the centerpiece of a media-rich digital archive of their efforts. Students contribute critical reflections on the play and their experience of performing it, expanding the public reach and creative dialogue of their semester’s work. Such an interdisciplinary project has benefitted greatly from the support of a variety of departments, programs, and offices, including English, Theatre, Medieval Studies, Media and Communications, New Media and Digital Design, Instructional Technology Academic Computing, and the Dean's Office.
A more appropriate debut performance for Fordham’s medieval theater troupe could not be imagined. Everyman asks difficult questions about our values, our ties to the world around us, our bonds with each other, and our relationships to ourselves. In the hands of the Medieval Dramatists, it has become a thoroughly local play, in dialogue with the culture of New York City and taking place in Central Park at the heart of Manhattan. Mindful of its rootedness in the Catholic culture of the Middle Ages, Everyman turns a critical eye on that culture and interrogates it, asking us to do the same for our own through laughter, inquiry, and play.
To see the continued activity and media surrounding this production, go to Twitter and Instagram: @fordhameveryman #RIPEVERYMAN, Facebook, or write the Medieval Dramatists at firstname.lastname@example.org or Prof. Andrew Albin at email@example.com.