Stage Playing

Stage playing In the early Church, actors, and stage players were regarded as ineligible to membership. The canons forbade all such to be baptized except on condition that they first bade adieu to their arts. Should they return to them, they were excommunicated, and were not reconciled or received again to favor but upon their conversion (Conc. Eliberis, can. 62; Conc. Carthag. 3, can. 35). They were forbidden communion as long as they continued to act. Gennadius cautions against ordaining any who had been actors or stage players. In the time of Cyprian not only public actors, but private teachers and masters of this art, were debarred the communion of the Church. The same regulations prevailed against chariot drivers, gladiators, and all who had any concern in the exercise or management of such sports, and all frequenters of them. The reason assigned for such exclusion was that "it was agreeable neither to the majesty of God nor the discipline of the Gospel that the modesty and honor of the Church should be defiled with so base and infamous a contagion." This indictment was none too severe, for we may add that "this kind of life was scandalous even among the wise and sober part of the heathen." Tertullian observes (De

Spectac. c. 22) that they who professed these arts were noted with infamy, degraded, and denied many privileges, driven from court, from pleading, from the senate, from the order of knighthood, and all other honors in the Roman city and commonwealth. See Bingham, Christ. Antiq. bk. 11, ch. 5, §7; bk. 16, ch. 4, § 10. SEE THEATER.

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