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Carmina Burana: The Wheel of Fortune
A dramatically comic Medieval tale of Fortune and Fate

newly scripted by Sondra and John Bromka

Our original script goes back to its Medieval sources. Designed especially for use in schools and communities, the production includes songs in Latin and French, comic and tragic acting roles, dancing, instrumentals, and in the school setting, can be performance-ready in one-week's time. Offered with coordinated workshops in costuming, theater craft, medieval history, literature, and much more. Adaptable for Grades 6-12, Communities

"The Wheel of Fortune" - illustration from the original ms, c.1230

About our newest performance piece for Medieval Pageantry and Celebration:

Looking for a meaningful and memorable way to connect medieval history, literature, and languages, and even spark an interest in Latin?

The creation of "Carmina Burana: The Wheel of Fortune" brings another dynamic centerpiece to our collection of theatrical works for Medieval Arts project-based residencies. Our original script goes back to its Medieval sources, a tale of fortune and fate. Wonderful for use in schools, the production includes songs in Latin, comic and tragic acting roles, dancing, instrumentals, and can be performance-ready in one-week's time. The piece is also highly suited to community events for a range of ages.

The journey in researching & creating this new musical theater script was steeped in rich experiences, taking us all the way back "on location" in Europe to the original early Medieval sources, manuscripts, music, and instruments.

Staying true to its historic origins, this is an authentic production that sparkles for modern audiences with the direct appeal of theater-in-the-round, a structure proven to be highly successful and versatile in our other pageantry works. As in Commedia dell'Arte, the characters and storyline are universal, colorful, and powerful enough to succeed in a wide variety of settings, age groups, and numbers of participants, with many opportunities for support activities. The end result is an team experience that nurtures marked growth in a range of communication skills.

The result is a beguilingly authentic performance piece that combines lively speaking roles, pantomime, and improvisation for a "core group" of students. The degree to which supporting music and dance performances can be woven throughout the pageant makes for great versatility and creative possibilities, and allows for expanded numbers and ages of additional participants. Whether you choose to go for "performance lite," or for a grand event with an ensemble, band, or choir, the concept is entirely flexible. Either way, the experience is a dramatic and authentic journey back in time for your students. As part of a larger event, our piece has proven itself well as a lively centerpiece for a "medieval feast," and also as theater-in-the-round for Medieval faires and festivals.

More about the Carmina Burana:

Historically, the Carmina Burana was a manuscript collection of 11th - 13th c. poems, songs, and dramatic texts. They were discovered in Germany, written in Latin, and originally gathered from all over Medieval Europe, including Provence, France, England, Scotland, Aragon, Castille, and the Holy Roman Empire (Germany).

The collection of manuscripts provides a fascinating portrayal of the surprising contrasts of the revelry and obligations of medieval life, outlook, and expectations. Themes range widely from jovial songs about games like chess and dice on the one hand, to stark songs describing the dangers of the world. The key songs selected for our version range from themes of the ebb and flow of human fate, to the joyous return of spring, to the dynamic action driven by a pivotal spinning "Wheel of Fortune." Expanded versions can also include love songs, satires, spiritual poems, songs of the crusades, and re-workings of writings from antiquity.

You may recognize the title "Carmina Burana" as being one of the quintessential pieces of early 20th c. composer Carl Orff, who responded musically to the many possibilities inherent in these manuscripts for modern orchestra and choir. In going back to the original, our new chamber version brings medieval history back to life with authentic period instruments, artistry, and theatricality. Complementary workshops will also be given in costume making, period dancing, learning from art history resources, theater craft, and more!

Our Donkey spins the
Wheel of Fortune

8th Grade Chorus & Musicians Rehearse at Milton MS, PA
"O Fortuna" music

Students choreographing a scene
Carmina Burana House Band at Katonah MS,
teachers and 6th grade students

Many Possible Applications:
  • Students Grades 6-12, as a project to integrate History, Literature, and Communications and Theater Arts
  • Latin, pre-Latin, and foreign language students, any level
  • Choruses; Orchestra & Band Ensembles, Community Groups, any level
  • look to our Medieval/Renaissance Residency Suite of programs link
  • Residencies may begin with a design meeting, where we can plan a unique integrated program that is created especially for your own applications and team.
  • Matching grants are available to help support our programs, and we are available to partner with your organization in writing applications.
  • Commissions for new pageants are encouraged and welcomed! Please inquire.
    Examples: Landmark historic celebrations; Village Bicentennials and Anniversaries; Art Exhibits

Links to Other Bells & Motley Pageants for Schools & Communities:
  • "Chanticleer's Tale" Pageant (link appearing very soon)
  • "The Ant and the Grasshopper, Aesop's Fabled Fiddler" Participatory Chamber Pageant for classroom or library audiences link
  • Christmas Wassail Pageant for communities, special events link
  • For a collection of photos of students in premier residency productions and performances of Carmina Burana, please go to www.gallery.me.com/bellsandmotley

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