Social Interactions in The Knight of the Burning Pestle


Social Interactions in The Knight of the Burning Pestle


Tracey Hill, Bath Spa University


The idea was to get the students to experience the social dynamics of the play through space, movement, and dialogue.

I gave the students some flip-chart paper and pens and asked them to map out the locations and movements of the characters in the first scene, i.e. draw them on a (pretty basic) schematic stage. We then drew arrows to indicate movement and to think about proximities as well as distance. (In a previous seminar we had already discussed the play's various social groupings - it would be useful to do this first.)

Then when everyone was happy they had covered everything, I got them up on their feet to take the various roles in order to enact what they had sketched out. This was a transformative exercise that they were still talking about weeks later - it gave them a spatial, almost visceral sense of the play's social and dramatic antagonisms, making them more real. It also brought home to them what a radical experiment the play must have been - and also how funny it is.


Type of course: second-year undergraduate
Time required: No prep beyond having discussed the play's social groupings as above. It took about 20 minutes to do the paper exercise and about the same to work through the scene in practice.


Tracey Hill, Bath Spa University, “Social Interactions in The Knight of the Burning Pestle,” Teaching the Middle Ages in Higher Ed, accessed May 29, 2020,

Social Bookmarking