The theatrical forms and practices of the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries were as numerous as they were varied. They served to publicize trials, to spread news, as privileged venues for public controversies and as instruments of political and religious propaganda. The surviving theatrical texts do not represent a current "reality" nor are they the reflection of a political reality in a dramatic "fiction"; they are evidence of a political action that was but one link in a chain of actions. This article proposes to resituate the theatrical event within a continuum of social practices and in the chain of political actions in which it occurred, in other words, in its "broad context". It seeks to understand what took place during the theatrical performance, paying particular attention to the fact that this performance brought together an audience, and, especially, to grasp what went on both before and after the performance. The analysis thus extends beyond the "theatrical performance", which is too limited to permit a study of theatrical practices, and includes what went on between performances.