Performing Medieval Narrative Today

A Video Showcase

Lancelot: Queen Guinevere is delighted with Lancelot

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About the scene and clip:
Lancelot tells Queen Guinevere’s young lady messenger that he is willing to do his best or his worst in combat—whatever the queen asks of him. The queen is delighted.

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. 162ff. 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:
Brittany Holtsclaw is a Drama student in the Stonestreet Studio 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.