The Plays returned to the city of York on the 9th, 12th & 16th September 2018 for their 20th year!
More about the Plays
In medieval York the Mystery Plays were an expression of civic piety on the Corpus Christi festival. The Creation to Last Judgement narrative was paraded through the streets on waggons as actors presented the great moments of Christian history at twelve playing stations designated by the city banners. This was both an act of worship and ‘community theatre’ for the entertainment of locals and visitors alike, honouring God, reflecting honour on York and allowing the Guilds to display their corporate identity.
Following the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic traditions were replaced or removed, until the year 1569 saw the last medieval production. In 1909 the waggons reappeared as part of the York Historic Pageant. Further “static” productions followed, in the Museum Gardens, the York Theatre Royal, and even the Minster. Nonetheless, the heart of the plays belonged to the streets. In 1994, nine plays were brought forth, as part of that year’s Early Music Festival.
In 1998 the York Guilds and Companies took over, establishing a four year cycle. The Guilds and York Festival Trust will once again be the driving force behind a new production of the city’s internationally renowned medieval Plays returning to the city in 2022.
Forty-eight scripts make up the existing York Mystery Plays. In 2018, we selected eleven to tell the story from Creation to Last Judgement. In a new approach to the plays, each is presented as a partnership- one from the Old Testament, and one from the New Testament. In the same way that the modern and medieval plays comment on each other, so do these paired stories.