To our knowledge, the Fordham Medieval Dramatists (FMD) are unique in New York City for our dedication to the public revival of the performance of medieval English drama. Though our productions adopt a variety of dramatic styles and approaches, we loosely model our principles for performance on medieval modes of play-making, focusing on non-professional actors, use of public spaces, creative collaboration, and the recruitment of local skills and talents. Though our players change from year to year, a shared spirit of critical thinking, resourcefulness, and open-minded experimentation unites us across productions.
Members of FMD are comprised by the students of Prof. Andrew Albin’s ENGL 4148: Medieval Drama in Performance, offered biennially as as an Interdisciplinary Capstone at Fordham College at Lincoln Center in the spring semester. Students work as a tight-knit collective to read, discuss, adapt, and stage a medieval dramatic work of their choosing, from the ground up.
For the first half of the semester, students read deeply into the corpus of medieval English drama in their original language, accompanied by works of criticism, theater history, and modern critical dramaturgy. During the second half of the semester, students participate in a series of guided workshops and thoughtfully explore and adapt their play as playwrights, directors, actors, filmmakers, and media designers. At the end of the semester, students produce a film of their live performance which becomes the centerpiece of a media-rich digital archive on the FMD website, enhanced by critical reflections on the play and the experience of its production and performance.
FMD brings interdisciplinary scholarship to life through hands-on experiential learning, ever mindful of how performance before a public audience can teach us much about the texts we study that we otherwise would not come to know. Our work thrives on the critical playground of Fordham’s English Department, builds bridges between Fordham’s renowned Medieval Studies and Theatre programs, and draws crucial support from New Media and Digital Design, Communications, Instructional Technology Academic Computing, the Office of Public Safety, and the Dean’s Office.
Special thanks to Daniel Alexander Jones, Glenn Hendler, Fr. Bob Grimes, Fred Wertz, Rien Chy, Rafael Deleon, Ann Chillemi, Amy Aronson, and Gwenyth Jackaway for their support of our endeavor!