Kyle A. Thomas and Carol SymesJul 24, 2023
The Play about the Antichrist (Ludus de Antichristo)
A New Verse Translation, Edition, and Commentary
Medieval Institute Publications 2023
The Play about the Antichrist (Ludus de Antichristo) was composed around 1160 at the imperial Bavarian abbey of Tegernsee, at a critical point in the power-struggle between the papacy and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. In this new translation, Carol Symes provides the first full and faithful rendering of the play’s dynamic language, maintaining the meter, rhyme scheme, and stage directions of the Latin original and restoring the liturgical elements embedded in the text. Kyle A. Thomas, whose dedicated research provides the foundation for an analysis of the play’s broader contexts, also brings perspectives from the first fully staged modern production that tested the theatricality of the translation and provides a new historical and dramaturgical analysis of the play’s rich interpretive and performative possibilities.
In this discussion, Symes and Thomas discuss the significance of the play, surprising and fascinating things they learned while working on the book, and what the Play about the Antichrist tells us about what it means to be human.
Carol Symes is associate professor of history and theatre at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and author of an award-winning monograph on theater and public life in medieval Arras. Kyle A. Thomas is assistant professor of theatre at Missouri State University, specializing in medieval performance texts and strategies for their modern enactment.
Becky Straple-Sovers is a medievalist and freelance editor who earned her Ph.D. in English at Western Michigan University in 2021. Her research interests include bodies, movement, gender, and sexuality in literature, as well as poetry of the First World War and the public humanities. She can be found on Twitter @restraple.