The Harrowing of Hell

April 10th through April 21st, 2019 Wednesday through Saturday at 8; Sunday at 2

The Piece

The Harrowing of Hell is a short play dating from the 13th century.  The circumstances behind its creation and first performances are unknown, but it was popular throughout the Middle Ages, as it is found in no less than three surviving medieval manuscripts–Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Digby 86 (1272–1300), London, British Library MS Harley 2253 (1330–1340), and the Auchinleck manuscript (Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland Advocates’ MS 19.2.1, 1330–1340).

The story of the Harrowing of Hell, when Christ, after the crucifixion and before the resurrection, journeyed to Hell to free the Old Testament prophets and others who were imprisoned there, is preserved in The Gospel of Nicodemus, a 2ndcentury non-canonical text that enjoyed great popularity in the Middle Ages, where it was used as the theme of many works of art, both literary and visual.

“All Harken to me Now”

Dr. Dailey’s new translation of “Harrowing of Hell” captures the time’s urgent cries to moral action in vivid and modern language.

Written in Middle English, this is the opening of the play:

Alle herkneth to nou A strif wolle y tellen ou
Of Jhesu ant of Sathan,–
Tho Jhesu wes to helle y-gan
Forte vachhe thenne hys,
Ant bringen hem to parays.

For this production, Dr. Dailey has rendered these lines:

All here hearken to me now A contest will I now avow Between Jesus and of Satan, When Jesus down to Hell’s gate ran To find his comrades in a trice And bring them back to paradise.

“Further than hell”

In addition to the Harrowing of Hell play, Dr. Dailey powerfully re-imagines several other works including “The Fall of the Angels,” “The Soliloquoy of Satan,” and “The Gospel of Nicodemus.”


Benjamin Beruh, Jeremy Carter, Connor Chaney, Ben Hayslett, Justin Little, Monty Renfrow, Logan Roberts, Sabrina Fara Tosti, Christopher Yoo


Dr. Jeff Dailey



Tickets are available at the door 20 minutes before curtain time. For reservations call (212) 581-3044. If you are a member of the Theater Development Fund (TDF) you may purchase tickets on their website.

For further details on the production Call 917.796.6112 or email

The Harrowing of Hell
The American Theater of Actors 314 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019

The Harrowing of Hell is eligible for several New York Innovative Theatre Awards. You can vote for us at Just click “Cast Your Vote”.

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