Winner: Brazil, Sarah Jane. “Forms of Pretense in Pre-Modern Drama: From the Visitatio Sepulchri to Hamlet.” European Medieval Drama 20 (2016): 181–201.
In this well-written and compelling essay, Brazil convincingly makes a case for a kind of “dramatic flexibility” in medieval performance in which the players’ life roles are not lost in the roles they imitate (or stand in for) for an audience.
As Brazil persuasively demonstrates, early medieval drama “intentionally shun[ned] naturalism” (198) in order to highlight the ritualistic and cultural implications of the interactions among performer, script, iconography, and setting. Moving masterfully between theory and close readings, Brazil’s essay re-frames medieval representational practice while making a case for its larger importance to narratives of theater history. For this successful combination of subtlety and detail with larger scope, we are very pleased to award the Martin Stevens Award for best new essay in early drama studies to Sarah Brazil.
Award Committee: Vicki Hamblin, Frank Napolitano, and Susannah Crowder (chair). Awards announcement and presentation took place during the MRDS business meeting in May at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.