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Immaculate Deception and Further Ribaldries: Yet Another Dozen Medieval French Farces in Modern English

Immaculate Deception and Further Ribaldries: Yet Another Dozen Medieval French Farces in Modern English

Did you hear the one about the Mother Superior who was so busy casting the first stone that she got caught in flagrante delicto with her lover? What about the drunk with a Savior complex who was fool enough to believe himself to be the Second Coming? And that's nothing compared to what happens when comedy gets its grubby paws on the confessional. Enter fifteenth- and sixteenth-century French farce, the "bestseller" of a world that stands to tell us a lot about the enduring influence of a Shakespeare or a Molière. It's the sacrilegious world of Immaculate Deception, the third volume in a series of stage-friendly translations from the Middle French. Brought to you through the wonders of Open Access, these twelve engagingly funny satires target religious hypocrisy in that in-your-face way that only true slapstick can muster. There is literally nothing sacred.

Why this repertoire and why now? The current political climate has had dire consequences for the pleasures of satire at a cultural moment when we have never needed it more. It turns out that the proverbial Dark Ages had a lighter side; and France's over 200 rollicking, frolicking, singing, and dancing comedies―more extant than in any other vernacular―have waited long enough for their moment in the spotlight. They are seriously funny: funny enough to reclaim their place in cultural history, and serious enough to participate in the larger conversation about what it means to be a social influencer, then and now. Rather than relegate medieval texts to the dustbin of history, an unabashedly feminist translation can reframe and reject the sexism of bygone days by doing what theater always invites us to do: interpret, inflect, and adapt.

Introduction: Nothing Sacred

The Plays

1. The Con-Man’s Confession [La Confession Rifflart] (RT, #57)

2. Blue Confessions, or, Sweet Margot Spills [La Confession de Margot] (RBM, #21)

3. Highway Robbery, or, A Criminal Confession [La Confession du Brigant au Curé] (RC, #10)

4. Confessions of a Medieval Drama Queen, or, The Theologina Dialogues [La Farce de quatre femmes] (RC, #46)

5. Confession Follies: Folie à Deux? [Le Badin, la Femme, et la Chambrière] (RBM, #16)

6. Brother Fillerup [Frère Fillebert] (RLV, #63)

7. Bro Job, or, Cum Hither [Les Chamberières qui vont à la messe de cinq heures] (RBM, #50)

8. The Resurrection of Johnny Palmer [La Resurrection Jenin à Paulme] (RC, #50)

9. The Resurrection of Johnny Slack-Jaw, or, The Harrowing of Heaven [La Résurrection de Jenin Landore] (RBM, #24)

10. The Pardoners’ Tales, or, Panderers’ Box [La Farce d’un Pardonneur, d’un Triacleur et d’une Tavernière] (RBM, #26)

11. Slick Brother Willy [Frère Guillebert] (RBM, #18)

12. Immaculate Deception, or, Nuns Behaving Badly [Farce nouvelle à cinq parsonnages] (Soeur Fessue) (RLV, #38)

Appendix: Scholarly References to Copyrighted Materials

Notes

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