Signifying God: Social Relation and Symbolic Act in York’s Play of Corpus Christi

Sarah T. Beckwith

Beckwith explores the most lavish, long-lasting, and complex form of collective theatrical enterprise in English history: the York Corpus Christi plays. First staged as early as 1376, the plays were performed annually until the late 1500s and involved as much as a tenth of the city in multiple performances at a dozen or more locations. Introducing a radical new understanding of these plays as "sacramental theater," she shows how organizing the plays served as a political mechanism for regulating labor, and how theater and sacrament combined in them to do important theological work.