THE HOLY TRINITY MYSTERY PLAYS – November 21,22,23,25.
The next full- scale production by Trinity Players will be a selection of Mystery Plays drawn from across the four surviving cycles, York, Chester, Wakefield and Coventry starting from Creation and ending at the Nativity. The cities still perform the Plays at regular intervals.
Although drama was first recorded in the 10th century as part of the Easter Service, the mediaeval Mystery Plays were performed by the Craft Guilds of a great city and not the church- drama for the people by the people – and were a source of civic pride. The Guilds sometimes referred to their specific skill as a Mystery hence the modern title.
Cosmic drama and bible stories were presented in intensely human terms; it has been said that ‘the unknown playwrights never allowed piety to swamp their humanity and the plays abound with humour, music, pathos, dancing, tension, refinement and vulgarity’. Some Players will remember that we had great fun staging a Play of Noah for the 800th Anniversary of Holy Trinity Church in 2010.
It is likely that Shakespeare, growing up, would have been aware of the Coventry Plays just up the road. As his plays and those of his contemporaries became more popular, Mystery Plays were deemed not sufficiently secular by a new audience and rather too secular, even popish perhaps, for the emerging Protestant Church. So, they fell out of favour until the 20th century. Since when they have proved popular and successful. However, in their heyday, the Coventry Plays were performed for Royals including Margaret of Anjou, Richard III and Henry VIII.
They were staged on a wheeled wagon in the street as part of a pageant with the audience dipping in and out and probably chatting. We will use all the great creative space of Holy Trinity but will not encourage chatting!
Costumes, music, props, masks, and special effects (including fireworks) were important, and we will be taking every opportunity to offer spectacle -perhaps not fireworks but at least we have film now!
I am looking to recruit a small cast who can play a variety of parts in the tapestry of memorable characters, from tyrant king to rough shepherd, nagging woman to the Virgin Mary, Angel to Demon; above all actors who are enthused at the notion of taking a full part in bringing these plays back to life.
The original actors were amateurs who had to audition so that the services of any man lacking in ’cunning (skill), voice or person’ might be dispensed with. However, the Mechanicals Play in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ suggests that didn’t always happen!
Rehearsals are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. Start and finish times can be very flexible depending on cast commitments. There is no performance on Fridays when the church choir practises.
If you are interested please contact Ursula Russell: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07887 642216