Performing Medieval Narrative Today

A Video Showcase

Erec: Erec beats Kay

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About the scene and clip:
The solo performer shows how Erec defeated the obnoxious knight Kay.

About the work:
Erec et Enide is the earliest of the five surviving romances by Chrétien de Troyes, who is often considered the father of Arthurian romance. This great work, in octosyllabic rhymed couplets, was composed for Marie, Countess of Champagne, around 1170. It tells how the noble knight of the Round Table, Erec, wins the beautiful Enide as his wife—but his honor is then compromised because he spends all his time with his lovely wife instead of doing his knightly duties. When Enide inadvertently reveals to him that his honor has been damaged, he rides off on adventure to restore it, taking her with him—and indeed in many of the adventures Enide plays a central role. Erec does many good deeds, recovers his honor—and finds the proper balance between love and chivalry.

About the genre:
Medieval romances are typically long narratives of love and adventure in which an aristocratic hero (or occasionally a heroine) proves himself in combat and courtship. Medieval romance arose in France and Anglo-Norman England in the 12th century and spread through Western and even Eastern Europe. Many early romances tell the stories of knights and ladies at King Arthur’s court. In the 12th and 13th centuries, romances are composed in verse (typically octosyllabic rhymed couplets), and are commonly performed aloud from memory by minstrels; romances are also sometimes read aloud. In the 13th century, some romances begin to be written in prose; public and private readings become more frequent.

About the edition/translation:
Erec and Enide, trans. Ruth Harwood Cline, Athens, GA, University of Georgia Press, 2000, pp. 118ff. Old French: Erec et Enide, ed./trans. Jean-Marie Fritz, Paris, Livre de Poche, 1992.

About the performer/ensemble:
Sam (Samantha) Erenberger is a Drama student in the Experimental Theatre Wing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (2010).

About the production:
This performance was created for “Acting Medieval Literature,” taught at New York University by Prof. Timmie (E.B.) Vitz, in spring 2010. Sam Erenberger and other students were the videographers.