YORK has more up its sleeve for this 2012 year. While the city is celebrating its 800th York Minster anniversary, it is also delighted to host the York Mystery Plays for the first time in twenty years. For the month of August, York Theatre Royal, Riding Lights Theatre Company, and Olivier award winning playwright Mike Kenny will present the plays, which were first performed 800 years ago.
The plays are a famous part of the city’s culture, performing scenes from the Bible – from creation to the last judgement – but haven’t been performed in the York Museum Gardens since 1988. Mike Kenny said “It is as living as it once was. You can hear in it the Yorkshire voices which once spoke it and refashion it for a new generation to speak again. It’s a pleasure and an honour to be entrusted with producing a new script for 2012.”
Kenny also commented on the contemporary adaptation of the plays. “The stories have always been told as a contemporary telling of the Plays. Realistically, recreating the Biblical period of 1150BC was not what the performances were about. It was about making these stories something that the community could have for themselves outside the confines of the Church.”
Reverend Jane Nattrass added that “The plays bring the Christian narrative to life. In medieval times the plays were actually teaching the Bible stories. These days many people are not aware of or do not remember many of the stories so the plays still have an educational role. They tell of suffering, of courage, of treachery and of forgiveness. They are human stories depicting the joys and trials of life that we all go through and therefore they will always be relevant”
While in production, the plays appointed Reverend Jane Nattrass as chaplain to assist the community involved, which includes over 1000 volunteers from York and nearby towns. The Reverend, who is also Priest-in-Charge to five of York’s city centre churches, said “the plays are an enormous undertaking in terms of time and energy and will take a huge toll both physically and emotionally. People may be pushing themselves to step outside their normal ‘comfort zone’ in order to take part. I am there in an independent, yet fully committed capacity and I will have time to listen.”
Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu is one of the confirmed patrons of the plays. He commented “This is a very exciting project and will provide a wonderful spectacle for the city. As you prepare to tell the story of God at work in Creation and Redemptions, I pray that you will be inspired by the majesty of the story, and that others in turn will be encouraged in faith and hope.”
Reverend Nattrass echoed the Archbishop’s appreciation of the work that is being done. She said “the great value of the plays is that they depict the messages in a way that is immediately memorable. When watching a live performance people find themselves becoming involved. They will stop and think of the relevance of the narrative, The Bible, in the world today. Small snatches from different plays will stay in people’s mind.”
Tickets may be booked through the York Theatre Royal web site, here.