Dramatic & Opera Translations

The Plaie Called Corpus Christi

Seven short, anonymous medieval plays adapted and directed by Robert Cohen

This evening of medieval theatre, the first of three, was created by Robert Cohen and Edgar Schell as part of the three-year, funded Focused Research Program in Medieval Theatre during the late 1980s. In all, 21 plays originally written for Corpus Christi festivals in England during the fourteenth and fifteenth century were adapted and produced on the stage over a period three consecutive summers, and one (The N. Towne Passion) was made into a professional video under a major grant by the National Endowment of the Humanities.

The first of these compilations, subtitled The Beginnings and translated by Cohen, include the individual plays: The Creation of the Universe and Fall of Lucifer, The Creation of Adam and Eve, The Fall of Man, The Expulsion, The Murder of Abel, Noah, and Abraham and Isaac. It is published in Cohen, Eight Plays for Theatre (McGraw-Hill). Performance rights available from the author.

Review Excerpts

“Someone forgot to tell director Robert Cohen and dramaturge Edgar Schell that these 600 year-old plays were dry historical artifacts. And Cohen certainly forgot to mention it to his cast, which wades fearlessly into the rhymed text with conviction and passion. The happy result is living, breathing theater rather than a museum curiosity. …There is an urgency behind the words, the characters are not cardboard cutouts, but real people facing tough choices. There is also spectacle – and plenty of it. A literate and inquisitive exploration of the genesis of English language theatre.” —Los Angeles Times (review)

“Pushes the issues of life beyond the psychological, and also one that makes larger claims on the imagination… has the size, the richness and the imagination that we have been craving in the theater.” —Los Angeles Times (Sunday feature)

“Magnificent entertainment.” —Daily Pilot

“Absorbing theatre.” —Irvine World News

”There is nothing musty here, either in the familiar Biblical narrative or in the inventive, lively – sometimes ingenious – staging by Robert Cohen and his energetic, articulate young cast. For its researchers, this giant undertaking has probably been most productive, but what matters to those of us of a less scholarly bent is how much fun and sheer theatrical fascination UCI has uncovered.” —Orange County Register