Thursday, 20 February 2020 - About Cheshireartsnetwork | Rss

FEATURE: Chester Mystery Plays

This amazing community theatre event takes place every five years and in 2013 the Chester Mystery Plays will be performed by hundreds of local volunteers.

The Chester Mystery Plays form a spectacular festival presented mainly by members of the local community under professional direction. This rare Chester production has become a much anticipated highlight in the British arts calendar, attracting people from all over the world. One of the largest community events in the UK, hundreds of enthusiasts of all ages from throughout the area make up the cast, crew and the support teams working in administration/marketing and front of house. 

The Chester Mystery Plays are performed in Chester every five years, with the most recent production being in 2008 in the grounds of Chester Cathedral and the next full production being planned for 2013, to be held in the Cathedral nave. 

A Brief History

Mystery Plays were created all across Europe from the 13th century as a means of celebrating the stories of the Old and New Testaments for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Other famous Mystery Play “Cycles” in England were written in Coventry, York and Wakefield. The scripts, as in the case of the Chester Cycle, were often written by medieval monks. Originally performed inside the churches (as planned for Chester in 2013), from the 14th century they were produced by Crafts Guilds and performed in the open streets and market places on pageant carts ("waggons"). Performed by local people, both scripts and performances changed each year to remain current and have popular appeal.

The production of the Plays, so important to the local community, was suppressed in, and following, the Reformation and the last recorded performance prior to the 20th century revival was in 1575. 

This amazing community theatre event takes place every five years. In 2013 the Chester Mystery Plays will be performed by hundreds of local volunteers led by a production team including Artistic Director, Peter Leslie Wild and Music Director/Composer, Matthew Baker. And for the first time ever, the Plays will be performed in the Nave of Chester Cathedral. 

Find out more here

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I'm the Editor of the Cheshire Arts Network website. E-mail me your news, listings and directory information at read more