York Mystery Plays

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York Mystery Plays: 1951 to the present day

This is the story of the York Mystery Plays from revival in the Festival of Britain in 1951 to the present day, told by the many individuals who have been involved with the Plays - whether as actors, stage hands or front of house - through their personal memories, photographs and press cuttings.  We at the National Centre for Early Music were inspired to 'get on' with talking to people who had been involved with the Plays to record their personal memories before it was too late. 
Museum Gardens 1951
This website is designed to offer a snapshot of the myriad productions of the Plays which have taken place in the city over the past 60 years, whether in the ruins of St Mary's Abbey, on the stage of the York Theatre Royal, in the spectacular nave of York Minster or on the traditional wagons drawn through the streets of the city of York - and to demonstrate the range of musical styles used to enhance the Plays throughRay Stevenson, Jesus, Minster 2000out that time.

This project was drawn together by the National Centre for Early Music in Walmgate, York with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund,  the York Millennium Mystery Plays Board, the York Civic Trust, the Feoffees of St Michael's, Spurriergate, Mayfield Valley Arts Trust, the City of York Council and Arts Council England, North.

We hope that you enjoy what follows. If you have archival material to add to our collection, or have a relevant link to be added to this site, please contact us at the National Centre for Early Music.

In 2016 the Plays were again in the spectacular nave of York Minster. 
The Mystery Plays were last performed on wagons by York Guilds around the city in
July 2014; here is a review in the York Press, 17 July. The previous outdoor production was staged in the Museum Gardens in August 2012 by York Theatre Royal and Riding Lights Theatre Company, supported by York Museums Trust and City of York Council.  This version was scripted by York writer Mike Kenny, with new music by Christopher Madin.  See here for photographs, or here for a cast list.  
 Share your memories with us!
2016 Plays