We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of English Studies


Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor John McKinnell

McKinnell, J. (2001). 'Significant Gestures: Two Medieval Illustrations of Classical Theatre.'. In Porci ante Margaritam: Essays in honour of Meg Twycross. Carpenter, Sarah, King, Pamela & Meredith, Peter Leeds: University of Leeds, School of English. Leeds Studies in English, New Series 32: 289-320.

Author(s) from Durham


This article uses two important manuscript illustrations to contrast fourteenth-century ideas about the performance of classical tragedy, which were based on rather inaccurate antiquarian reconstruction, with those for the comedies of Terence, which had enjoyed a continuing tradition of performance. The article shows how the move from the semi-circular classical theatre to performance in a medieval hall gradually changed performance conventions and led to a style of acting in which masks were discarded and lead gestures were made with the upstage hand (rather than always with the right hand, as was done in the Roman theatre).

Support Staff