Chambers of Rhetoric

Definition

Theater

  • (Rederijkers Kamers) Associations of rhetoricians inthe Low Countries during the 15th to 17th centuries, who organizedfestivals and performed in the equivalents of the English mysteryplay and morality play. The idea for such associationsoriginated in the 12th century in northern France; the Chambers ofRhetoric showed this French influence most clearly in their guild-likeorganization. During the 15th century the emphasis was on farce; onlyone play with a romance theme by a Rederijker survives, Colijnvan Rijssele's Spiegel der Minnen.

    Local towns commissioned Chambers of Rhetoric to organizereligious and secular festivals. They also ran national festivalsand drama competitions. A winner in 1470 was Pieter Doorlant's moralityplay Elckerlyc, the basis for the English Everyman(1500). The miracle play Mariken van Nieumeghen (1500) is oneof the earliest works to feature a play-within-a-play; it deals witha sinful woman who is converted by an outdoor pageant.

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