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pageant, modern dramatic spectacle or procession celebrating a special occasion or an event in the history of a locality. In medieval times the word pageant had meant the wagon or the movable stage on which one scene of a mystery or miracle play was performed. The pageant was built on wheels and consisted of two rooms, the lower one being used as a dressing room and the upper used as a stage. The word also referred to the complex wooden machine-structures built for the Tudor masque. The modern form of the pageant came into general use in England and America since the production, in 1905, of L. N. Parker's Sherborne pageant in England. Pageants include such celebrations as the Mardi Gras and annual local festivals.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a term used to designate a movable stage in the medieval theater used in presenting mysteries, miracle plays, and dramatic processions.

The pageant was a large wagon consisting of two levels. On the lower level the actors changed their costumes; on the upper level, which was provided with a curtain and primitive scenery, a scene or act from a play was presented. The pageant then moved on to a new site and the same scene was played again before a new group of spectators. Another wagon appeared, on whose stage the play was continued. The scenes followed one another in strict accordance with the play’s plot.

Pageants were popular in England and in other European countries. In the early 20th century the term was applied in Great Britain and the USA to theatrical performances using a movable stage.


Gvozdev, A., and A. Piotrovskii. Istoriia evropeiskogo teatra. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931. Pages 415–62.
Parker, A. Pageants: Their Presentation and Production. London, 1954.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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