Adapted from the Middle English Play
By Lauren Nypaver, Brandi King, and Stacy Weaver
With consultation by Dr. Koster
Directed by Suzanne Ludovina
and presented in a staged dramatic reading
as a Cultural Event at Winthrop University
April 16, 2000
Photographs © Debra Boyd and Holly Cotton
[Production Credits]

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Brandi King as Prologue; Carson Coleman as Mercy


Peace, lords and ladies, that beeth present,
And harken to me in good intent,
How the Devil and Mischief=s toils are lent,
And all their minions= efforts are bent;

And how Mankind with Mercy=s grace
is saved, we=ll show you in this place
If you will give us room and space
To tell you this good story.

This play, forsooth, begin shall we
In worship of the Trinity,
That ye may all hear and see
What shall be told today.

Dearly we thank you with might as we may
For laudably listening to this our small play,
And if any misspeaking now cause you dismay
We beg you forgive us, if that you may;

For truly our intent was well for to do.
Little time of learning we had hereunto,
And experts in eloquence we are very few,
So speak of us kindly, we now pray of you!

My name is Prologue; I now foretell
With you I may no longer dwell.
Farewell, my sovereigns, and now let tell
The Tale of Mankind, our play.


MERCY: God told us He ought to be glorified.

He sent us his son
so that mankind was dearly redeemed.
I am the agent of your redemption.

Mercy is my name. When you are at your greatest need, I will be your defender. In good works I advise you to purify your souls so your enemies will not corrupt you. There is no food as precious, as glorious, or as needful as God’s work and grace. For surely there will be a last judgement where the corn will be saved, and the husks will be burned. Keep this in mind.

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Carson Coleman as Mercy


MISCHIEF: Please, leave your threshing,

leave your husks, leave your corn,

leave your dallying.

Your wit is little, your head is great,

you are full of preaching.

MERCY: Why do you come here, Mischief? You were not called for.

MISCHIEF: I’ve been hired as a corn-husker and you said the corn should be saved and the husk should be burned. I am here to gather the husks.

MERCY: Get out, good sister! You are shameful for interrupting me.

MISCHIEF: I only came here to have fun with you. But since you’ve told me to leave, I will go. My friends will keep you company, instead.

[Mischief leaves. Vanity, Vogue and Vixen enter.]

VANITY: And how, minstrels, play the common dance! Play on with the music till our bellies burst!

VIXEN: What if I break my neck: What then?

VANITY: I don’t care, by Saint Anne!

VOGUE: Leap about lively! you are a limber girl. Let us be merry while we are here!

VIXEN: Shall I break my neck to entertain you?

VOGUE: Either that or ever beware of the gossip.

VIXEN: I curse you all! Here is a mischievous lot.


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Traci Edwards as Vixen; behind, Alicia Gaines as Vogue; Tori Parker as Vanity

MERCY: Stop, stop this revel!

VOGUE: Stop, old hag? Stop? This is no concern of yours.

VIXEN: Yes, I pray you, for I love not this reveling. Come forth, good sister, I pray you! You can try a little. Off with your clothes, if you will play. Go on! for I have had a pretty good caper.

MERCY: No. I will not dance.

VANITY: If you will, ma’am, my sister will make you prance.

VOGUE: With all my heart, lady, if I may help you. You may try a little dance.

VIXEN: Yes, ma’am, if you would do well, don’t dance with them. But ma’am, I know I heard you speak of us three.

VANITY: Christ’s curse had I since then, for I was asleep.

VOGUE: And I had the cup in my hand, ready to eat.

Therefore, good lady, briefly, speak.

MERCY: Few words, few and well said! But tell me your names, I don’t know you.

VANITY: Vanity, I am.

VOGUE: I am Vogue.

VIXEN: I am Vixen.

VANITY: Ma’am, it is vanity and the new fashion. Many words and shortly set, this is vanity, every way.

MERCY: See how the wretches delight in their sinful ways!

VOGUE: Speak not against vanity! You shall find us shrewd in every test. Beware! you may soon get a beating.

VIXEN: I heard you call Vanity, Vogue, Vixen; all these three together. If you say that I lie, I shall make you grovel. Here, take yourself a tripping. [trips her]

MERCY: You three have betrayed many men.

VANITY: Betray! No, no, ma’am, no!

We make them both fresh and gay.

But I ask for your name

so that know you we may.

MERCY: Mercy is my name. I imagine you have but little pleasure in my communication.

VANITY: Uh, oh! You are a strange cunning clerk.

VOGUE: I pray you heartily, worshipful clerk, to have this English translated into Latin: "I have eaten a dishful of curds, and I have shit your mouth full of terds."

MERCY: This idle language you shall repent.

I wish you would go.

VANITY: We all three go with one assent.

[To the Vs]

My sister is irritated by our eloquence.

Therefore, we will no longer tarry.

[To Mercy]

God bring you, sister and the blessed Mary,

to the company of the demonical fairy!

VOGUE: Come wind, come rain,

though I never come again!

The Devil burn your eyes with pain!

Ladies, we go quickly.

VIXEN: Go we hence, a devil way!

Here is the door, here is the way.

Farewell, gentle Mercy, I pray

God give you good day!

[they leave]

MERCY [To audience]: Thanks be to God, we have been saved from those three vices. They are worse than beasts: a beast follows its natural instinct without choice, but they have great ease, and yet they take no thought. They are wanton wenches now, but when judgement day comes they will be sad. I will not criticize anymore. I don’t need to speak of it; you are all reasonable enough to know it yourselves.

[Mankind enters.]

MANKIND: My name is Mankind; I am composed of a body and of a soul, at war with each other. Between them there is a great division; she that should be subject, now she has the victory. It is a lamentable story to see my flesh have the upper hand over my soul.

O my soul so exquisite in your substance,

alas, what was this fortune and this chance

to be bonded with my flesh, that stinking dunghill?

Lady, help! Sovereigns, it does my soul great ill

to see the flesh prosperous

and the soul trodden under foot.

I shall go to yonder woman and ask her, I will.

I trust of spiritual help that she will be my guide.

All hail, holy sister! You are welcome to this house. Of the true wisdom you have a share. I beg you, for holy charity, for your help. My spiritual enemy the Devil will have a great game if she may see me end without spiritual guidance.

MERCY: You are welcome, my friend. Stand up on your feet. My name is Mercy; you are to me fully welcome. I will give you advice.


Mercy, of all grace and virtue you are the fountain,

I have heard of you from worshipful clerks.

You are closest to God and near of his counsel.

He has set you above all his works.

Your lovely words to my soul are sweeter than honey.

MERCY: The temptation of the flesh you must resist for there is always a battle between the soul and the body. Don’t be a coward against your adversary. Intend well and God will be helpful to you.

[The V’s return.]

VANITY: Yes, ma’am, true, you are no liar. I have fed my husband so well till I am his master. He has a great wound on his head, and on it lies a bandage, and another there where I piss on my peace.

MANKIND: Where speaks this lady?

Will she not come near?

MERCY: All too soon, my sister, I fear.

As soon as I leave you they will be here.

Remember my doctrine; it will be your defense.

God now calls me; I have to go hence.

VOGUE: The sooner the better, if it is ever soon!

I think your name is Do Little;

you are far from home.

If you would go away, we all would come.

You have permission, I dare say,

to go forth on your way.

Folk have little pleasure in your play

because you make no sport.

VIXEN: When will you go dine?

I have seen a man lose twenty pounds

in as little time:

yet it was not I, by Saint Quintin,

for I was never worth a pot

full of vegetables since I was begot.

My name is Vixen. I love well to make merry.

I have been recently seen with the tapster of Bury

and played so long the fool that even I am weary.

Yet I shall be there again tomorrow.

MERCY [To Mankind]: Your enemies will be here soon, to make their boasts. Remain true in your faith. [Gives her rosary.] Moreover, I especially charge you to beware of Vanity, Vogue and Vixen. Give them no audience, or they will tell you many lies. Do your work and go to church.

Beware of Titivillus, for she will whisper in your ear and cast a net before your eye. She is worst of them all. If you displease God, ask for mercy right away, or else Mischief will deceive you. God shield you from your foes!

MANKIND: Amen, for saint charity, amen!

[Mercy leaves.]

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Sara Beverly as Mankind

The rebellion of my flesh now it is overcome, thanks be to God to the cunning that I know. Here will I sit and write on this paper the incomparable nature of my promise. [To audience:] Worshipful sovereigns, I have written here the glorious reminder of my noble condition.

To have remorse and memory of myself thus I write

to defend me from all superstitious charms:

Remember that you are dust & to dust you will return.

Lo, I bear on my breast the coat of arms.

VANITY: The weather is cold, God send us good fires! With the holy you will be holy; with the wicked you will be wicked. Behold how good and jolly it is, said the devil to the friars, to live together as one.

MANKIND: I hear a lady speak, with her I will not bother. This earth with my spade I shall try to dig. To avoid idleness, I will do it myself. I pray God send it his fruition.

VOGUE: Make room ladies, for we have long been away! We will come give you a tavern song.

VIXEN: Now I pray all the audience that is here

to sing with us with a merry cheer:


(To the tune of 'Do, Re, Mi') 

Dough with which I buy my beer

Ray, the guy I buy beer from,

Me, the guy I buy beer for,

Far, the distance to the store,

So, I think I’ll have a beer,

La, la la la la la, beer,

Tea, no thanks, I’ll have a beer,

And that brings us back to

Dough, dough, dough, dough, beer!

VANITY: Hey, Mankind, God speed you with your spade! I shall tell you of a marriage: I would your mouth and his ass that made this song were married jointly together.

MANKIND: Hie you hence, harlots!

Leave your ridicule and your joking.

I must do my labor, it is my living.

VOGUE: What lady, we came but lately here.

Shall this be all the corn that you grow this year?

If it is so, corn had better be expensive.

Or else you will have a poor life.

VIXEN: Alas, good lady, this labor frays you to the bone.

But for your crop I lament greatly.

You shall never raise it alone;

I shall try to get you a man.

How many acres suppose you have here?

VANITY: Eh, how you turn the earth up and down!

I have been in my days in many good towns,

yet I have never seen another such tilling.

MANKIND: Why do you stand by idle?

It is a pity that you were born!

VOGUE: We shall bear with you

and neither mock or scorn.

Take a good cart to the harvest

and load it with your corn

and what shall we give you for the crop?

VIXEN: She is a good strong laborer,

she would gladly do well.

She has just met with the lady Mercy

at an unlucky spell.

For all this she may have many a hungry meal.

Yet will you see she is correct.

Here shall be good corn,

she may not miss it;

if she should want watering,

she may piss over it and

if she wants compost,

she can--bless it a little with her ass.

MANKIND: Go and do your labor! May God never let you thrive. Or with my spade I shall hurt you, by the Holy Trinity! Have you no one to mock, but me? You would have me one of your group! Go away quickly, or else I will drive you out. [beats them with spade]

MANKIND: Hence I say, Vanity, Vogue and Vixen!

It was said before, all the means should be sought

to pervert my condition and bring me to naught.

Hence, thieves! You have made many a lie.

VIXEN: I was cold, but now I am warm.

You are ill-advised, ma’am, for you have done harm.

By God’s sacred body, I have such a pain in my arm

I may not make change for a farthing.

[Mankind kneels.]

MANKIND: Now I thank God, kneeling on my knee.

Blessed be his name! he is of high degree.

By the help of the grace that he has sent me

three of my enemies I have made to flee.


[To audience:] Yet this instrument, sovereigns, is not made to defend. David said, "Not by spear nor by sword does the Lord save."

VIXEN: No, Mary, I tell you, it is by spade. Therefore Christ's curse on your head to send you less might!

[The V’s leave.]

MANKIND: I promise you these harlots

will no more come here,

for some of them, certainly,

were somewhat too near.

My counselor, Mercy, told me

To be of good cheer

and against my enemies to fight.

I shall convict them, I hope, every one.

Yet, I say amiss, I do it not alone.

With the help of the grace of God

I resist my foes and their malicious hearts.

With my spade I will depart,

my worshipful sovereigns,

and live ever with labor

to correct my insolence.

I shall go get seed for my land.

I pray you of patience;

right soon I will return.

MISCHIEF: Since I was last here my work has been utterly undone! While I was gone, Mercy has taught Mankind to fight against her foes. Her spade was her weapon; Vanity, Vogue, Vixen, have all been beaten. I have great pity to hear them weeping. Will you listen? I hear them cry. [They cry]

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Traci Edwards (Vixen), Alicia Gaines (Vogue), Suzanne Ludovina (Mischief), Tori Parker (Vanity)

MISCHIEF: Come here, I will be your protector. Come, come. Peace, fair ladies! Why do you weep?

VANITY: Alas, sister, alas, my private parts!

MISCHIEF: Where? Alack. Fair babe, kiss me!

Wait, soon enough I shall it see.

VOGUE: Here, here, see my head, good sister!

MISCHIEF: Poor darling, come, come.

I shall help you of your pain,

I will cut off your head

and set it on again.

VIXEN: By our Lady, ma’am, a fair cure!

Will you cut off her head!

That is an evil charm!

As for me, I have no complaints.

I am unwilling to give up my arm.

You play "In the name of the Father," chop! [crossing herself and making a rude arm gesture]

VANITY: You shall not chop my jewels, if I can help it.

MISCHIEF: I can chop them off and make it whole again.

VANITY: I had a shrewd knockout but I felt no pain.

VOGUE: And my head is all safe and whole again.

But our strategies fail us;

Mankind does not complain.

Let us have a consultation,

We must cause her mischance;

We need a devil to make Mankind dance!

MISCHIEF: How, how, a minstrel! Know you of any?

VIXEN: I can pipe in a Walsingham whistle, "Here, Demon, Demon."

MISCHIEF: Call Titivillus and maybe he will come.

TITIVILLUS: [voice] I’ll come if you pay me.

MISCHIEF: If we give Titivillus something, we will get something back.

VANITY: You, go this way! We shall gather money for the purpose or else no man may see her. [To the audience] Now piously to our purpose, worshipful sovereigns, we intend

to gather money from you in order to see a lady that is of great omnipotence.

VOGUE: Keep your tally in goodness, I pray you, good sister! She is a worshipful lady, people; show your reverence. She loves not pennies, nor small coins. Give us greenbacks if you will see her abominable presence.

VANITY: Not so! You that can’t pay the one, pay the other. [To a man in the audience:} As the master of this house, first we will see you. God bless you, master Will! You may curse, but you will not say no. Let us go by and by and make them pay. You pay all alike, and you might be lucky!

[The Three V’s move through the crowd, collecting money, to the Money Song (to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat):

Cough, cough, up your down,

When we come around;

Put your money in the hat,

And the devil will come to town.]

VIXEN: I say, Vanity, Vogue: Are you rich? I have cried long enough, I curse your head!

VOGUE: Truly then, sisters. [Calling Titivillus] Come now out your door! [To audience] She is a good lady, so make space and beware!

[Enter Titivillus.]

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TITIVILLUS: I am Queen of Demons, and my name is Titivillus. You that possess good horses, to you I say beware! Here is an able fellowship to snatch them out of your door.

I prove it thus: ma’am, Vanity, lend me a penny!

VANITY: I have a great purse, ma’am, but I have no money.

By the mass, I’m short two farthings of a halfpenny;

yet I had ten pounds this last night.

TITIVILLUS: [to Vogue] What is in your purse? You are a strong woman.

VOGUE: The Devil has the reward. I am an upstanding madam.

I pray God I never be poorer than I am.

It shall be otherwise, I hope, ere this night come.

TITIVILLUS: [to Vixen] Hark now! I say you have many a penny.

VIXEN: Not of our own, lady,

not of my own, by Saint Denny!

The Devil may dance in my purse

for lack of a penny;

it is as clean as a bird’s ass.

TITIVILLUS: [to audience] Now I say yet again, beware! Now I say, Vanity, Vogue, and Vixen, go and search the country, some here, some there, for what you can steal. If you find no horses, take what else you may.

VANITY: Then speak sternly to Mankind for the knockout blow on my jewels.

VOGUE: Remember my broken head in the worship of the five vowels. (Moans: AEIOU)

VIXEN: Yes, good lady, and the wound in my arm.

TITIVILLUS: I know full well what Mankind did to you. Mischief has informed me of all the matters thoroughly. I shall avenge your quarrel; I will make God a vow. Go forth and see where you may do harm. I say, Vanity, where are you supposed to go?

[In the next bit the V’s supply local place names and recognizable people.]

VANITY: First I shall begin at the great house of Tony; from there I shall go to the brothers of Alpha, then to the men of PIKA. I will keep me to these three.

VOGUE: I shall go to Phelps and to Dinkins; but I shall spare the women of Woffard, for they are touchy women.

VIXEN: I shall go to Thomson. But I shall spare the boys of Richardson, for they are so pretty. Sisters, come forth and we will go from here together.

VANITY: Since we shall go, let us be well aware. If we are taken, we come here no more. Let us rehearse well our alibis so that we don’t have a disaster.

TITIVILLUS: Go your way, a devil’s way, go your way all!

I bless you with my left hand: foul befall on you!

Come again, I command, as soon as I call you,

and bring your gatherings into this place.

To speak with Mankind I will tarry here at this time

and try to change her good purpose and set it aside.

The good lady Mercy shall no longer be her guide.

I shall make her dance another step.

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Heather Brown as Titivillus

I will go invisible; it is my fashion, and before her eyes thus I will hang my net to blank her sight; her labor I shall make it her trap. This board shall be hidden under the earth secretly; [buries a board] her spade shall enter, I hope, with difficulty; by the time she tries to dig, she shall be very angry and lose her patience, with the penalty of shame. I shall switch her seeds with weeds; they shall not be suitable to sow or to sell. Yonder

she comes: I pray you to keep quiet. She shall think her grace is gone.

[Mankind with seeds enters]

MANKIND: Now God of his mercy send us his message!

I have brought seeds here to sow on my land.

While I dig it, here it shall stand.

[puts down seeds] In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now I will begin.

[Titivillus steals the seeds]

This land is so hard it makes me tired and frustrated; I shall sow my seeds at random and let God work.

[discovers seeds are missing]

Alas, my seeds are lost! Here is a foul work! I see well that by tilling I shall gain little. Here I give up my spade for now and forever.

[Here Titivillus goes out with the spade]

To occupy my body I will not put myself in labor. But I will say my evening prayer here before I leave. This place I assign for my church. Here in my church I kneel on my knees. "Our father who art in heaven..."

[Titivillus enters again]

TITIVILLUS: I promise you I have no lead in my heels. I am here again to make this fellow frustrated. Quiet! Peace!

I shall go to her ear and whisper within.

"A short prayer pierces heaven; of this long prayer cease.

Thou are holier than ever was any of your kin.

Arise and go out! Nature calls .

MANKIND: [rises]

I will into the yard, sovereigns, and come again soon.

For I am in dread of the kidney stone, I am.

I will go do that which needs to be done.

My prayer beads shall be here for whomever wants them. [leaves]


Mankind was busy in her prayer, yet I made her arise;

she is moved, by Christ, from her divine service.

Where is she, do you know?

I think I am wonderfully wise;

I have sent her forth to shit little lies.

I, Titivillus, can teach you many pretty things.

I know Mankind will come again soon,

or else I fear my evening song will be done.

Her beads shall be thrown aside and that soon.

You shall see a good sport if you will abide.

Mankind comes again, well she fares! I shall answer her at every query. I hope to set her aside from her purpose.

MANKIND: [enters] Evening prayer has been going on,

I know, for a fair while.

I am tired of it; it is too long by a mile.

Do way! I will no more go so often to church. I shall say a prayer later. Labor and prayer, I am tired of both; I will do no more of it, though Mercy will be angry. My head is very heavy, I tell you truly.

TITIVILLUS: [to audience] If ever you did love me,

for me keep now your silence.

Not a word, I charge you,

on penalty of forty pence.

A crafty game shall be shown before you leave.

You may hear her snore, she is sound asleep. Quiet!

Peace! the Devil is dead! I shall go next to her ear.


Alas Mankind, alas!

Mercy has stolen a mare!

She flees from her master,

no one knows where;

moreover, she stole both a horse and an ox.

But yet, I heard say she broke her neck

as she rode in France;

but I think she rides on the gallows,

to learn how to dance,

because of her theft,

that is her wrench.

Trust her no more;

she is a ruined wench.

Great sorrow with this spade

before you have wrought.

Arise and ask mercy of

Those three women you fought.

They can advise you for the best;

let their good will be sought,

and deceive your own spouse,

and take a lover as you’re taught.

[to audience]

Farewell, everyone! For I have done my game;

Now I have brought Mankind to mischief and shame.

MANKIND: [wakes] Whoop who! What a dream! Mercy has broken her neck, I see, or she hangs by the neck high upon the gallows. I have been deceived in her! Adieu, fair friends! I will go to the ale-house and speak with Vanity, Vogue and Vixen.

VANITY: [enters with noose around neck]

Make space, for Christ’s sake, make space!

A ha! well outrun! God give her evil grace!

We were nearly caught, by him that made the thunder.

Luckily, the halter broke asunder:

behold the evidence!

Take off this halter! What devil makes Mankind be here with sorrow! Alas, how my neck is sore, I swear!

MANKIND: You are welcome, Vanity! Lady, what’s new with you?

VANITY: Well, sister, I have no cause to mourn.

MANKIND: What was that about your neck, so God help you?

VANITY: In faith, Saint Audry’s holy neck band. I have a little disease, as it pleases God to send me a case of ringworm.

VOGUE: [enters with stolen goods]

Make room, I pray you, my sisters!

I have labored all this night.

When shall we go dine?

A church’s treasury shall pay for our bread and wine.

Lo, here is stuff that will serve to pay.

VANITY: Now, by the holy Mary, you are a better thief than I!

VIXEN: Away rogues, let me go by! If I cannot steal I will starve.

MISCHIEF: [enters in chains] Here I am. What are you all standing around for? Of murder and manslaughter I have had my fill.

VOGUE: What, Mischief, have you been in prison? I see you have stolen a pair of chains.

MISCHIEF: I was chained by the arms, see I have them here.

The chains I broke apart and killed the jailer,

and her husband I embraced in a corner.

Ah, how sweetly I kissed that sweet mouth of his!

When I finished, I came here.

How were your adventures?

MANKIND: [kneels] I ask mercy of Vanity, Vogue and Vixen. Once with my spade I remember that I fought. I will make you amends if I hurt you or did any grievance.

VANITY: What the devil do you think of this disposition?

MANKIND: I dreamt Mercy was hanged; this was my vision,

and that with you three I should have reconciliation.

Now I pray you heartily of your good will. I cry you mercy for all that I did wrong.

VOGUE: [to friends] I say, Vanity, Vixen, Titivillus did all this: as sure as God is in heaven, so it is.

VIXEN: Stand up on your feet! Why do you stand so still?

VANITY: Mischief, now we you exhort

Mankind’s name in your book of followers to report.

MISCHIEF: I will not. I will hold a court.

Vogue, make a proclamation and do it in a legal form, fool.

VOGUE: Oyez, oyez, oyez. All manner of men and common women to the court of Mischief either come or go! Mankind shall return; she is one of our women.

MISCHIEF: Vixen, come forth, you shall be steward.

[Vixen hands Mischief the judge’s robe.]

MANKIND: I will do what is best.

VIXEN: Hold, Mischief and read this.

MISCHIEF: Here is "Blottybus in blottis, blottorum bottibus istis." I curse your ears, a good handwriting.

VOGUE: Yes, it is a good cursive fist. Such a hand may not be decoded.

VIXEN: I could have done better, had I known how.

MISCHIEF: Take heed, sisters, it concerns you here.

The general court being held in a place where there is no parking in the regnal year of king Tony the First, on yesterday in April, here is your decree.

MISCHIEF: Mankind, come hear your sentence!

You will go to all the fellows in the country about;

unto the husbands when the wives are out.

"I will," say you.

MANKIND: I will, ma’am.

VANITY: There are six deadly sins;

lechery is not one, as we wenches know.

You shall go rob, steal, and kill as fast as you may go.

"I will," say you.

MANKIND: I will, ma’am.

VOGUE: On Sundays in the early morning you will go with us to the ale house, go early to dine and forsake church and prayers. "I will," say you.

MANKIND: I will, ma’am.

VIXEN: You must have by your side a long dagger to take men’s money, cut their throats, and overpower them. "I will," say you.

[Mercy enters]

MISCHIEF: Shh! Shh! I have seen Mercy! Off with you. I tell you, the last one home is cursed.

ALL: Amen!

MERCY: What how, Mankind! Flee that fellowship, I pray you!

MANKIND: I shall speak with you another time, tomorrow, or the next day. We shall go together to remember my father’s dying day. Barmaid, barmaid! Hold on!

MISCHIEF: [trying to hide Mankind] May harm go with you! [To Mankind] Go away from me for a while.

VANITY: What now, hustler! Lend us a scarf!

[all play Blind Man’s Bluff]

MERCY: My mind is distracted, my body trembles.

The tears would trickle down my cheeks

were it not for your presence.

It would be comfort to me,

the cruel vision of death.

Without swearing I can not express this misfortune.

I do not understand why Mankind is so fickle.

Man unkind, wherever you are!

To every creature you are hateful and odious.

Why are you so discourteous, so inconsiderable?

To God and to all the holy court of heaven

you are despicable.

Vanity, Vogue, and Vixen with their alluring ways, they have perverted Mankind. If I can help it, with these cursed wretches, she shall not long remain. Will I find her? Yes, I hope. Now God be my protection! Where are you? Mankind, where are you?

MISCHIEF: Will you hear? She cries ever "Mankind, where are you?"

VANITY: Here, here, here!

That is to say, here, near the creek.

If you will have her, go and seek, seek, seek!

Seek not too long, for loss of your mind!

VOGUE: If you will have Mankind,

by our Lady! You must speak

to the sheriff for habeas corpus, or else you must be happy to return with a search warrant. How say you, ma'am? My bolt is shot.

MISCHIEF: Let’s gather! Come forth, Vixen, behind. I am afraid that Mercy will find her. How say you, and what say you? What will we do with Mankind?

VANITY: She thinks Mercy was hanged for stealing a mare.

Mischief, go say Mercy’s ghost seeks her everywhere.

She will hang herself, I bet, for fear.

MISCHIEF: I agree, it is a good plan.

VOGUE: Wrap the rope quickly; now Saint Gabrielle’s mother save the covering of these shoes! All the books in the world, if they had been opened, know not to counsel us better.

MISCHIEF: [leaves] Mankind! Come and speak with Mercy, she is nearby.

MANKIND: A rope, a rope! I am not worthy.

MISCHIEF: Here, here! I have it here ready, with a tree that I have also found. Hold the tree, Vogue, Vixen!

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VIXEN: Lo, Mankind! Do as I do; this is the new fashion. Tighten the rope just to your neck, this is my advice.

MISCHIEF: Help yourself, Vixen! Look out, Mercy is here! We may no longer stay.

[VANITY slips and hangs herself]

VANITY: Quick, quick! Alas, my throat! I beg you all help! Mercy, Christ's curse go with you and Saint Davy!

[The V’s rescue her.]

Alas, my throat! You were somewhat too near.

[all leave]

MERCY: Arise, my precocious daughter! [To audience] She is so fearful, it seems she will faint.

MANKIND: Alas, I have been so badly disposed,

I dare not look higher.

To see your comforting face

I am not worthy to desire.

MERCY: Your confessions of crime

wounds my heart as a lance.

Ask mercy, and I will assent.

Give me neither gold nor treasure,

but your humble obedience.

MANKIND: The equitable justice of God will not permit such a sinful wretch to be revived and restored again; that were impossible.

MERCY: The justice of God will go where I will.

MANKIND: Then mercy, good Mercy! What is a woman without mercy? Little is our part of paradise if mercy were not there. Good Mercy, excuse the inevitable objection of my ghostly enemy. The proverb said, "the truth tries the self." Alas, I have many tests.

MERCY: Listen to my doctrine: do not sin then hope for mercy, that is a notorious crime. To presume too much is not wise. Just be aware that mercy is possible. As we read in scripture, "Go and sin no more." If you feel yourself trapped in the snare of your enemy, ask mercy at once.

MANKIND: To ask mercy and to have it granted,

this is a precious possession.

Shall my petition be granted,

That is my question.

MERCY: Mankind, you were oblivious to my warnings. I said before, Titivillus would try to attack you. You have three adversaries: Vanity, Vogue, Vixen, they are the World; and Titivillus signifies the Devil. The Flesh is the unclean will of your body. They brought you to Mischief so she could destroy you. Remember: you may both save and destroy your soul that is so precious.

MANKIND: O Mercy, it grieves my heart to think how unwisely I have acted. Titivillus, that invisible tempter, hung her net before my eyes, and by her fantastic visions betrayed me to Vanity, Vogue, and Vixen.

MERCY: In this present life, mercy is plentiful, until death. Ask mercy and receive it, while you are living; if you wait till death, you will miss your chance. Be repentant here; think on this lesson: "Now is the day of salvation."

MANKIND: Since I must depart, bless me, sister, before I go. God send us all plenty of his great mercy!

MERCY: May the Lord preserve you from all evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

[Mankind leaves]

MERCY: Worshipful sovereigns, Mankind has been delivered from evil.
        Remember the world is but a vanity,
        as it is proved here today.
        Take her lessons to heart, and may
        God therefore grant you all eternal life
        in the end. Thus endeth the play!

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The Medieval Muses (ENGL 325, Spring 2000)
Front: Mary Haile, Traci Edwards, Alicia Gaines, Tori Parker, (above)Suzanne Ludovina, Heather Brown, Sara Beverly, Carson Coleman. Back: Brandi King, Dr. Koster, Holly Cotton, Sherri Ferguson, Anja Carneal, Kristie Bush, Lauren Nypaver, Stacy Weaver, Melissa Wilson, Kelly Riddle. Missing: Johanna Jowett.

Production Credits

Brandi King, Lauren Nypaver, Stacy Weaver

Stage Manager
Kelly Riddle

Kristie Bush
with special thanks to Cheryl Hingle and Will Melton

Johanna Jowett and Anja Carneal
with special thanks to Janet Gray for the loan of Vogue's costume
and to Meredith Reynolds for the loan of Titivillus' bodice (what there was of it)

Hair and Makeup
Melissa Wilson

Carson Coleman and Suzanne Ludovina

Publicity and Programs
Holly Cotton, Sherri Ferguson, Mary Haile

Cultural Events to the Rescue!
Our thanks to Sharon Johnson for hand-distributing the slips!

Holly Cotton and Dr. Debra Boyd (an honorary Muse)

Executive Producer (and very lucky instructor)
Dr. Jo Koster