Back in 1964, a group of U of T graduate students started putting on plays from the Middle Ages – with no idea how their productions would be received outside the rarefied world of medieval studies. Almost 40 years later, the drama troupe that grew out of these early efforts travels the world and attracts audiences of thousands.
The Poculi Ludique Societas (the drinking and playing society) will host a homecoming celebration this spring for the more than 2,000 volunteers who have been part of its 150 productions. The plays enjoyed broad appeal from the start, says David Klausner, a professor of English and medieval studies and a 35-year member of the society. “This is very much a drama of the people.”
Performing works from the 12th to the 17th centuries, the society has an international reputation for producing single plays as well as large-scale medieval play cycles (a series of short, connected plays that can extend over several days). Many of the productions have overtly biblical themes, yet that hasn’t discouraged today’s largely secular audiences, says Klausner. While many PLS members are students or faculty members intrigued by the plays’ scholarly significance, the society also attracts volunteers from church groups and theatre troupes.
The homecoming will be held on May 24 in Toronto in conjunction with the Saints’ Play Festival, featuring several performances that focus on the lives of the saints. For more information visit: www.chass.utoronto.ca/~plspls/