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Rude Mechanicals Medieval and Renaissance Players perform at humanities conference

ISSUED: 2 March 2023

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — The Rude Mechanicals Medieval and Renaissance Players performed the 15th-century medieval comedy The Second Shepherds’ Play at the Wilson College Humanities Conference on February 25.

Group photo of Rude Mechanicals Medieval and Renaissance Players on a stage.

Shepherd students who performed include Julie Bowen, Brianna Cline, Dannah Lohr, William Prudnick, Abigail Stradley, and Olyvia Thompson. Alumni TK Lindsay and Ash Wilson were also in the cast, as well as Admissions Counselor Catherine Ellzey.

The Second Shepherds’ Play is from an anonymous collection of 15th-century northern English biblical cycle plays (sometimes referred to as mystery plays). Although the main characters in the play are the shepherds who are called to the Nativity, almost all of the play’s action concerns the plight of these poverty-stricken shepherds, who are much less valuable to their wealthy landlords than the sheep they tend when one of the sheep is stolen by a local thief and his wife (also extremely poor), who try to pass the stolen sheep off as their newborn baby.

While the play is a comedy, it contains social commentary about 15th-century social conditions brought about by the enclosure of rural land. The porous boundaries between animal, human, and divine are foregrounded in this play: shepherds/sheep; sheep/human baby; and Mary’s human baby who is also divine and the Lamb of God.

Shepherd’s Rude Mechanicals Medieval and Renaissance Players is a theater troupe devoted to productions of ancient Greek, medieval, and Renaissance dramas that are true to the spirit of the time when these plays were first performed and are relevant to 21st-century audiences.

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