York Festival Trust invites writers to script a ‘chorus’ for the 2014 production

The 2014 Quadrennial Mystery Plays will be taking place on the 13th and 20th July, performing on waggons on the streets of York.  The overall production will be made up of 12 plays of medieval origin telling stories from the Bible and performed by different church, community and Guild groups.

The artistic identity of the Quadrennial productions has been strongly moulded by the patchwork of creative ideas, interpretations and styles brought forward by the different participating groups and guilds.  The 2014 Mystery Plays look to place such diversity within the overall context of a strongly unified production.  The implementation of a chorus is central to this, framing and connecting the individual plays to bring artistic unity and coherence by:

  • Operating as a conduit between plays, players and the audience
  • Providing a theatrical frame that adds a new narrative dimension to the production
  • Aiding the process of audience interpretation, supporting their active engagement with the plays

The chorus will be placed at the following points during the overall cycle:

  • At the beginning of the production before Creation
  • Between The Fall of Man and The Shepherds
  • Between Slaughter of the Innocents and The Baptism
  • Ending part 1 to lead into the interval after Entry into Jerusalem
  • Beginning part two after the interval to lead into Annas and Caiphas
  • Between The Death of Christ and Harrowing of Hell
  • At the end of the production after The Last Judgement

It is anticipated that the overall run time for the chorus will be 22 minutes.

Brief for the Expression of Interest

With the above in mind, please submit a sample piece of writing for the chorus linking plays 4 and 5 in the cycle – Slaughter of the Innocents and The Baptism.  The sample should be no more than 5 minutes long and should be written for three actors, ideally a mix of male and female.  The chorus should speak in a contemporary voice, but may borrow from the verse forms used in the plays.  There are no other fixed requirements for the roles/characteristics of the chorus or their narrative context.

Please also include a short example of previous work.

Please note that submissions will only be accepted from Script Yorkshire members, however new membership is welcomed from those wishing to respond to this Expression of Interest.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 7th March to be returned to:

Deborah Pakkar-Hull, Artistic Director of the 2014 Quadrennial Mystery Plays at: DeborahLHull@hotmail.com

Shortlisting and a final selection will take place during the first two weeks of March with shortlisted candidates being interviewed by a panel.  The successful candidate will be awarded the full writing commission to be completed by Monday 12 May.

There is no fee attached to this opportunity, however the script of the successful candidate will be performed on the 13th and 20th July as an integral element of the Quadrennial Mystery Plays.  These performances attract large audiences and are high profile events on the city’s civic and artistic calendar.

Background information

The 12 plays selected for the 2014 production are drawn from the York cycle of Mystery Plays, a medieval collection containing 48 plays.  The selection for 2014 has been chosen to present a coherent and complete narrative, not simply a fragment of the original 48.   It tells an overarching story of the struggle between good and evil, beginning and ending in the heavenly domain before being played out on the earthly plane, with Jesus either present in, or the focus of a series of very human dilemmas, conflicts, difficulties and enterprises.  It is a human story that whilst rooted in religion and heritage, is designed to resonate with a 21st century audience.

Modern translations for all of the 48 plays can be accessed online at:


Alternatively 22 of the plays are published in York Mystery Plays: a Selection in Modern Spelling, edited by Richard Beadle and Pamela M King, published by Oxford University Press (2009).  Although these translations are in modern spelling, they retain elements of the Middle English expression.