York Mystery Plays - www.yorkmysteryplays.co.uk - brought forth by the York Guilds and Companies
The word "mystery" means a "trade" or "craft" in medieval English. "Mystery" is also a religious truth or rite.
The medieval plays were sponsored and subsidised by the city's craft guilds.
In the 21st century, the spectacle of the medieval Corpus Christi festivities has been recreated by the York Guilds and Companies' productions of the York Mystery Plays, using waggons moved between playing stations. The plays are performed from noon until early evening on two Sundays in July.
The Guilds' next production will take place in 2014. Residents and visitors to the city can see the plays for free in many city centre locations, including Dean's Park and the Museum Gardens (pictured above).
The plays have also been performed on a fixed stage in the Museum Gardens. York Theatre Royal, Riding Lights Theatre Company and York Museums Trust are staging a production of the plays in the Museum Gardens in 2012. More information on this production is available at www.yorkmysteryplays-2012.com.
The solitary surviving manuscript of the York plays, dating from around 1463-77, is kept at the British Library. It was the centrepiece of an exhibition in York in 2010, organised to accompany the 2010 production of the plays.
The York Mystery cycle usually comprised some 48 pageants, illustrating the Christian history of the world. The Guilds' production presents a selection - 12 plays were performed in 2010.
Traditionally, the plays were played on the feast day of Corpus Christi, a movable feast occurring between 23 May and 24 June.
If you would like to receive updates on forthcoming productions, please join our mailing list.
For more information - including the staging practicalities, the literary significance and the music accompanying the plays - see the background pages. The website of our 2002 production includes information on individual plays and guilds.