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This retrospective represents a new approach to using historical performance as a tool for understanding medieval narrative performance. The core of the article traces how an individual performer’s interaction with a stable medieval text both indicates directions medieval performers may have taken and suggests the limitations imposed by modern performance conventions. The discussion touches on issues of adaptation and translation, variation in troupe composition and audience, expectations of modern audiences, impact of costume choices, and limitations of audio and video recordings as documentation of live performance. Juxtaposing eight performances of a single passage clarifies how performance can transform a text, and how a text can impose a consistent character across a range of performance redactions.

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This document was originally published by ScholarWorks at WMU in Accessus: A Journal of Premodern Literature and New Media. Copyright restrictions may apply.