Medieval Strolling players were travelling actors that formed into groups and travelled the country in medieval times. Strolling players performed plays in theatres and also open air venues, the group of strolling players usually consisted of people who had different types of skills so that it made the group capable of delivering varied and interesting performances.
Many ordinary medieval people such as serfs and peasants loved the entertainment that strolling players provided, however many medieval people had a distrust of the strolling players and thought of them as being vagabonds and thieves who created problems and stole things and then vanished to the next medieval town or village.
Strolling players were travelling entertainers that went from village to town, from town to city telling stories, jests and played music and performed acrobatics. Strolling players were all round entertainers who came from all walks of medieval life. The themes of medieval players was commonly based around religion or current events. One very popular play was Robin Hood which was enjoyed by medieval people.
Travelling performers like the strolling players had a wide set of skills and they were many different plays that they could perform, In medieval times Vernacular Plays and Morality plays that covered chivalry and conduct were popular. The Bible and religion was a subject that was widely covered in medieval plays and strolling players would adapt their acts to what was popular at the time.
Medieval Strolling players wore costumes that were relevant to the plays they were performing. Masks were an important part of a Strolling players costume, these masks were usually bizarre looking and had a grotesque look to them which would usually scare the audience.
As the medieval period progressed the church and government who had the most power wanted to bring these Strolling players under their control. They believed the Strolling players were a threat to their authority as they could stir up dissent amongst medieval people. It was thought that the message in plays such as Robin Hood “Taking from the Rich to give to the Poor”, would create a rebellion amongst medieval people. This led to the Church and government introducing a ban on travelling actors and they were completely banned after the end of the medieval period in 1572.
It was believed that the strolling players spread diseases from area to area as they performed, the Church and the Government had already decided that the strolling players were a danger to their authority and had decided to ban them and when the black death appeared this had an effect of being yet another reason for the strolling players to be banned. The strolling players themselves had probably been too scared to enter towns and cities during the Black death period as there was a good chance that you would die from the bubonic plague (Black Death).
Strolling players were important entertainers in medieval times that performed plays that often had an important message or theme. The Church and Government became concerned with the messages being conveyed to medieval people in these uncontrolled plays such as Robin Hood and eventually the strolling players were banned.
We hope you enjoyed this article on medieval strolling players, if you were like to learn more about medieval entertainers similar the to strolling players please see the links at the bottom of this Strolling Players page, we suggest you look at medieval Minstrels and medieval Mummers entertainers.