The Castle of Perseverance
is a c. 15th century morality play
and the earliest known full-length (3,649 lines) vernacular play in existence. Along with Mankind
, The Castle of Perseverance
is preserved in the Macro Text (named after its owner Cox Macro) that is now housed in the Folger Shakespeare Library
in Washington, D.C. The Castle of Perseverance
contains nearly all of the themes found in other morality plays, but it is especially important (and unusual) because a stage drawing is included, which may suggest theatre in the round
One of the earliest drawings of a stage and set design is preserved in the manuscript. In the center of the drawing is the castle from the play's title. The writing above the castle explicitly says that the audience should not sit in the area. At the base of the castle is a bed on which Mankind rests. The circle around the castle is labeled as a ditch, which the audience should not cross.
The five short text blocks around the circle label scaffolds for some of the characters, including God
, and World. The map is oriented with north towards the bottom, which suggests that it is not merely some abstract suggestion by the playwright
, but rather a real set design that may have been implemented.
Whether the drawing truly represents theatre in the round or not is debatable. Although the ditch circles the castle completely and it is stated that the audience should not cross it, nowhere does the text state that... Read More