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Un quatuor de farces médiévales / A Quartet of Medieval Farces

English Synopsis

"Let us bring noses & asses together in harmony!"  Performed as early as 1476 (in Lyons, for René d’Anjou and his court – a noble pedigree for such a humble subject), this farce is one in a series that drew laughter by treating with mock seriousness a trivial indiscretion, no doubt a common one on a medieval diet of cabbage, beans and other “windy” foods.  An outraged husband, Hubert, picks a quarrel with his long-suffering wife, Jeannette, for farting in the house.  A lawyer conveniently happens by and smells profit to be made in settling this dispute before a judge.  After careful examination of the case, the judge determines wisely that in taking a wife, a husband takes not only those parts that please him but all of her, so the fart is indeed, Hubert's.

Modernized French Prose Version by Jeff Persels

 

Suggested Musical Accompaniment: 

Claudin de Sermisy (died 1562) "Je ne menge point de porc / I Don’t Eat Pork"

 Medieval farce

4 (1w / 3m)*

Approx. 15 minutes

Minimal (a table, a pile of cloth, a chair for judge, a coin)

As minimally or elaborately medieval as desired: appro-priate hats, kerchief, apron, robes - codpiece for Hubert a plus!)

 

* gender of judge & lawyer roles adaptable

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Script
(PDF)

English Synopsis

“Well did the Devil advise me / The day, without really thinking, / I decided to get married!”  First published in Lyons in the 14th century, the Cuvier, together with Maistre Pathelin, helped put medieval farce back on the French stage in the 19th century.  Poor,  slow-witted Jaquinot complains of constant harassment by his demanding wife and overbearing mother-in-law, both of whom think he should be doing  more work around the house, in fact, ALL the work.  To keep the peace, he agrees to take down and perform a (lengthy) list of domestic chores – most but not all of them disagreeable – and pledges faithfully to abide by it. When Jeannette demands he help with the laundry, the clumsy Jaquinot only manages to make his wife fall into the washtub, where she fears she’ll drown unless he pulls her out. It turns out – alas! –  that, search as he might, this particular chore is not on his list. Jaquinot finally consents to rescue his wife if she and her mother agree to leave him alone and to allow him to be, as he puts it at the outset, « maître en ma maison », that is, the master of the house.

Modernized French Verse by G. Gassies (des Brulies)

 

Suggested Musical Accompaniment: 

Clemens Non Papa (died 1555) "Du laid tetin / On the Ugly Breast"

Script
(PDF)

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Medieval farce

3 (2w / 1m)

Approx. 15 minutes

Minimal (a big washtub, real or cutout, a long parchment list)

As minimally or elaborately medieval as desired: appro-priate hats, kerchief, skirts, aprons - codpiece for Jaquinot a plus!)

 

English Synopsis

Of uncertain date but first collected in the mid-16th century. A domestic spat pits a lazy husband against a nagging wife, quickly escalates into a quite literal battle of the sexes and ends in a bet to see which of the two can keep still and silent - "moving neither lip nor tooth" - the longest. A traveling tinker happens by and when his loud attempts to drum up business fall on deaf ears, he tries to provoke the mute couple into speech. In this he only succeeds when his clumsy attempts to seduce the wife prove too much for the husband, who "awakens" and beats the poor tinker, thereby losing the bet. The wife proposes drinks all around to celebrate her victory.

 

Modernized French Verse by G. Gassies (des Brulies)

 

Suggested Musical Accompaniment: 

Anonymous (late 15th century) "Bon vin je te puis laisser / Good wine, I cannot do without you"

Medieval farce

3 (1w / 2m)*

Approx. 15 minutes

Minimal (plastic cauldrons for the tinker to carry, charcoal, feather duster, etc., to "deco- rate" the couple)

As minimally or elaborately medieval as desired: appro-priate hats, kerchief, skirt, apron - codpieces for husband and tinker a plus!)

 

* gender of tinker role adaptable

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Script
(PDF)

English Synopsis

Dated to the late 15th century. Two cold and starving tramps get no handouts from stingy baker Gautier and his wife Marion. When the baker leaves for a dinner across town, they overhear his instructions to his wife to send along the big eel pâté he has prepared when a boy comes and gives the agreed-upon sign. The tramps are thus able to trick Marion into giving them the pâté, which they run off to eat. When the husband returns unexpectedly because his hosts were not at home and discovers his wife has given away the pâté, they quarrel and come to blows. The tramps return, this time with their eyes and stomachs set on tricking Marion out of a pie for dessert, only to get their just desserts directly from the hand (and stick) of the angry baker. They take their beating in stride, however - "So let's eat to console ourselves" - and escape to polish off the remains of the eel pâté they'd carefully hidden from Gautier. 

Modernized French Verse by G. Gassies (des Brulies)

 

Suggested Musical Accompaniment: 

Loyset Compère (died1518)

"Nous sommes de l'ordre de Saint Babouyn /We Are of the Order of Saint Baboon"

Medieval farce

4 (1w / 3m)*

Approx. 20 minutes

Minimal (pâté, pie, some sort of baker's storefront, pool noodle for beatings)

As minimally or elaborately medieval as desired: appro-priate caps, kerchief, skirt, aprons - codpieces for tramps and baker a plus!)

 

* gender of tramp roles adaptable

Genre:

# of characters:  

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Costumes:

Script
(PDF)

The Farce du pet and the Farce du cuvier were first performed by the  Comédiens Carolingiens troupe in 2002, then again in 2012, with the addition of the Farce du chaudronnier and the Farce du pâté et de la tarte. Set was simply a brightly-painted set of 9 2' x 2' plywood cubes, arranged as needed during musical interlude following each farce.

The Farce du pet (updated to contemporary Paris) and the Farce du cuvier were revived February 2017 by the Columbia Alliance Française theatre troupe, followed by Gassies des Brulies's modern French verse rendering of the Farce de maître Pathelin, all accompanied by live acoustic guitar and sung performances of Guy Béart's adaptations of medieval songs. 

La farce du cuvier (2017)
La farce de maîre Pathelin (2017)
La farce du pet (2017)