Le Jeu d'Adam

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Le Jeu d'Adam (Latin: Ordo representacionis Adae, English: The Play of Adam) is a twelfth-century liturgical drama written in the Anglo Norman dialect of Medieval French. While choral texts and stage directions are in Latin, the spoken text of the play is in the vernacular, which makes the Adam the oldest extant play written in any old French dialect.[1] It is a dramatic representation of the temptation and fall of Adam and Eve, the story of Cain and Abel, and a series of prophets including Isaiah and Daniel. It is part of the medieval tradition of mystery plays, which developed from dramatic elements in the celebration of Mass, and includes choral music.

The opening statement of the piece describes part of the set:

Let paradise be constructed in a prominently high place [constituatus paradisus loco eminentori]; let curtain and silken hangings be placed around it at such a height that those persons who will be in paradise can be seen from the shoulders upwards; let sweet-smelling flowers and foliage be planted; within let there be various trees, and fruits hanging on them, so that the place may seem as delightful as possible [ut amoenissimus locus videatur].[2]

The play was to be presented outside the church, possibly with Paradise being located at the top of the stairs to the west door, such that the church doors would stand in for the gates of Heaven.[2][3]

The author of this play is unknown, although we can assume from his knowledge of Latin that he was in a religious position.[3]

Modern performances[edit]

The 2009 English translation of the play by Carol Symes in The Broadview Anthology of British Literature was staged at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Cloisters Museum in New York City in December 2016.[4] That production, directed by Kyle A. Thomas, also traveled to the campus of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where it was filmed and made publicly available.[5]


  1. ^ Studer, Paul. Le Mystere d'Adam, An Anglo-Norman Drama of the Twelfth Century. p.xxii. Manchester University Press, 1928. https://archive.org/stream/lemystredadama00stud#page/n25/mode/2up
  2. ^ a b Kobialka, Michal (1999). This Is My Body: Representational Practices in the Early Middle Ages. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-472-08938-3. Retrieved September 24, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, Volume 1: The Medieval Period. Peterborough, ON: Broadview Press. 2009. ISBN 978-0-472-08938-3. 
  4. ^ "Presenting The Play of Adam at The Met Cloisters". The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum. Retrieved 2017-03-16. 
  5. ^ Illinois1867 (2017-03-16), The Play of Adam, retrieved 2017-03-16