This paper examines the nature and role of timed action in the English medieval theatre. Analysis of the phenomenon is conducted through the explicit stage direction and conditioned by the needs of the performer. Notions of 'instantaneousness', 'simultaneity', readiness', and requirements 'to wait' as contained in explicit stage directions are investigated. The relationship between timed action and staging conventions is discussed through requirements for 'stillness', 'silence', 'waiting' and 'walking about the place'. Additionally, the relationship between 'acting' and 'not acting' as witnessed by an audience is also discussed.

Author Biography

Philip Butterworth is Reader in Medieval Theatre and Dean of Research in the newly created Faculty of Music, Visual and Performing Arts at the University of Leeds. He has published articles on stage directions, staging conventions, and pyrotechnics. His book Theatre of Fire was published in 1998 for The Society for Theatre Research, London. He is currently working on two books: Theatre of Magic and Staging English Medieval Theatre.