"The Play of Antichrist" (Ludus de Antichristo), written about 1160 at the Bavarian abbey of Tegernsee, tells the story of the Apocalypse, the end-time predicted in the Book of Revelation and later embellished by medieval theologians. It is the original sci-fi action thriller, staging massive battles among Christians and pagans and between the Roman Emperor and other Christian kings -- events leading up to the subjugation of the entire world, the coming of the Antichrist and his dominion, and the conversion of the Jews, all of which were considered the necessary precursors to the Second Coming of Christ. In its own day, the play would have inflamed participants in the ongoing Investiture Controversy, the propaganda war that was pitting the reigning Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, against the papacy. It was also an advertisement for the Crusades. Today, the Ludus suggests numerous haunting and hilarious parallels with political culture and ideological conflict in our own globalized yet divided world.
The Ludus, directed by UI graduate student Kyle A. Thomas (Theatre Dept.), will be performed twice, on 19 April at 4:00pm and again on 20 April at 10:00 am. The performance is part of the pilot project "Performing the Middle Ages," funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities for the "Humanities Without Walls" initiative.