Reference > Cambridge History > The Drama to 1642, Part One > Secular Influences on the Early English Drama > Beginnings of the Interlude
  Influence of English Minstrels on Religious Plays The Minstrels’ Guild  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume V. The Drama to 1642, Part One.

II. Secular Influences on the Early English Drama.

§ 3. Beginnings of the Interlude.


By the fifteenth century, religious drama had passed out of the hands of the church into those of the amateur performers of town or guild. Moreover, the stimulus given to the love of dramatic performances had resulted in the birth of the interlude—the short play, sometimes religious, but usually moral, in character, which could be played in the banqueting hall of the noble or in the market place or village green by a few players, and without the expensive and elaborate machinery of the miracle. The popularity and ease of preparation of the interlude soon induced its amateur performers to extend a practice not unknown in the case of miracles, and take it “on tour,” as we should say now, from town to town and village to village. The minstrels had already suffered, not only from the invention of printing, which left them no longer the sole repositories of story and poem, but from the increasing command of literature by the amateur (knight or tradesman) which followed the development of the English language. The poaching on their preserves of the amateur interlude player spurred them to double action.   7

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  Influence of English Minstrels on Religious Plays The Minstrels’ Guild  
 
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