VERMILLION, SD – USD Theatre’s 2020-2021 season moves on from Ancient Rome and the success of its first livestreamed performance of “Julius Caesar” with a trip to England in the Middle Ages. “Angels and Demons: The Medieval Mystery Plays” is directed by second-year MFA student Casey Paradies, who also translated and adapted the work.
One of the most popular theatrical events in the Middle Ages was the performance of the Corpus Christi Cycle: stories from the Bible that were used to explore questions of divinity and humanity. Members of various guilds in towns across Western Europe each produced one of the plays, which investigated the conflict of good and evil in the mortal, the divine and the demonic. Based on both the Bible and the Apocrypha, the plays spoke directly to the audiences of their time. Written by anonymous authors from York and Wakefield, the plays span human “history” from the creation of the world to its end.
Director/adaptor Paradies was drawn to the idea of blending elements of the Middle Ages alongside our contemporary world. “The stories, regardless of religion, have had a deep cultural influence on our western culture. I wanted to present the stories in a highly theatrical way that would also demonstrate their continued relevance in our current time,” said Paradies.
The performers have been challenged to move aside from their usual realistic acting and play with more presentational styles.
Junior BFA musical theatre major Camille Cook takes on the role of Jesus. “Getting to work with a piece that is so deeply rooted in rituals has been so interesting during the time of Covid, when so many of our rituals have been interrupted. It has given me a new perspective on Christian culture and has opened my eyes to so many overlooked aspects of these stories.”
“'Angels and Demons' has been a process I have never experienced before,” said junior BFA musical theatre major Chloe Sand who plays Deus (God). “From the poetic text to incorporating full body moments, it has been such a fun, energizing challenge.”
Ryan Shearer plays the demon Tutivillius and speaks to the communal aspects of the process. “I have loved every part of working on the production. Every day I come to rehearsal, I am surrounded by such talented artists and it inspires me to give the best performance I can.”
Tune in for a brand-new take on Medieval story telling with “Angels and Demons: The Medieval Mystery Plays.” The show will livestream Oct. 23 and 24 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 25 at 2 p.m. from www.usd.edu/theatre/live.
Check out USD Theatre on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for interviews and photos.