Performing Medieval Narrative Today

A Video Showcase

Aucassin: Torelore

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About the scene and clip:
In this episode, the young lovers Aucassin and Nicolette, having fled from home, travel to the land of Torelore where the King lies in childbed and the Queen fights battles in which no one is slain. The performer draws on a blend of cardboard puppets, illustrations, a book, contemporary recorded music, and a cell phone.

About the work:
Aucassin and Nicolette: This charming work, composed by an anonymous poet around 1200, is the only surviving example of the “chantefable”: it is partly in prose, to be spoken; partly in verse, with assonanced lines of 7-syllables, to be sung. Aucassin and Nicolette reflects a thorough-going familiarity with the genres of the period, such as epic, romance, saint’s life, and lyric song–and a light-hearted parodic attitude toward them all.

About the genre:
See “About the work” (above).

About the edition/translation:
Abridged from Aucassin and Nicolette and Other Medieval Romances and Tales, trans. Eugene Mason, New York, Dutton, 1958, pp. 30-35. Original text: Aucassin et Nicolette, ed./[Modern French] trans. Jean Dufournet, Paris, Garnier-Flammarion, 1973.

About the performer/ensemble:
Jenn Jordan is an undergraduate student in the College of Arts and Science at New York University, majoring in Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2003).

About the production:
This performance was created as part of an Independent Study with Prof. Timmie (E.B.) Vitz in fall 2003. The clip comes from a performance that took place in November 2003 at the Maison Francaise of New York University at a Roundtable on “New Perspectives on Medieval Narrative,” sponsored by the Colloquium on Orality, Writing and Culture, co-convenors Prof. Nancy Freeman Regalado and Prof. Vitz. The performance was videoed by NYU-TV.