Performing Medieval Narrative Today

A Video Showcase

Lancelot cuts off Proud Knight’s head at maiden’s request

video platform video management video solutions video player

Flash Logo Viewing our videos requires the free Adobe Flash player.
(No need for Flash on mobile devices.)

About the scene and clip:
A maiden requests that Lancelot cut off the head of the Proud Knight, whom he has defeated in combat. Lancelot does as she asks—and the head goes flying.

About the work:
Lancelot is one of the five surviving romances by the great narrative poet Chrétien de Troyes; it is centrally concerned with the love affair between Guinevere, wife of King Arthur, and Lancelot, one of the knights of the Round Table. This unfinished romance contains many adventures of Lancelot and Gawain as they attempt to rescue Guinevere, who has been carried off by the evil Meleagant.

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:
Lancelot or the Knight of the Cart, trans. Ruth Harwood Cline, Athens, GA, University of Georgia Press, 1990, pp. 80ff. French: Le Chevalier de la charrette, ed. Charles Méla, in Romans de Chrétien de Troyes, eds./trans. J.M. Fritz et al, Paris, Classiques Modernes/Livre de Poche, 1994.

About the performer/ensemble:
Ruby Joy is a Drama student in the Playwrights Horizons Theater School at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (2008).

About the production:
This performance was created for “Acting Medieval Literature,” taught by Prof. Timmie (E.B.) Vitz in spring 2008; it was videoed in the classroom.