Nicholas Udall would almost certainly have seen mystery and morality plays presented in his community as he was growing up. Traveling companies brought English drama to communities throughout England, including Southampton. When, beginning at the age of twelve, he attended St. Mary’s College, Winchester, he most likely would have studied Aristotle’s De poetica (c. 334-323 b.c.e.; Poetics, 1705), the major plays of the Greek dramatists, and the Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence, especially those of Terence. Although no records exist to indicate specifically which plays might actually have been performed at Winchester while Udall was a student, it is known that Greek and Roman plays were presented at other grammar schools in England at that time, and later in his life Udall demonstrated an analytical knowledge of the works of Terence. Further familiarity with the elements of drama would have come from his participation in, or at least his knowledge of, the ceremony of the Festival of the Boy Bishop, which was celebrated annually at Winchester. The ceremony involved having students take the parts of ecclesiastical officials in presenting divine services at the school. If Udall did not actually participate in such ceremonies, he would certainly have observed them.
Udall probably wrote a number of plays presented during and after his lifetime both in the schools as pedagogical exercises and at court for...
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