The spectacular 2018 production of Chester Mystery Plays is now under way at the Cathedral. This week’s column is written by Canon Jane Brooke, acting dean of Chester Cathedral, who writes about welcoming the company to the historic venue
The central nave in the cathedral has been transformed into a two tier platform and staged seating ready for the performers and the audience of the Chester Mystery Plays.
This is the second time the cathedral has welcomed the professional stage builders, directors and musicians with a cast which includes superb local Cestrian performers.
The cathedral community is very pleased to accommodate such an exciting city production and have our Sunday services during that time in the Quire (the east end of the cathedral).
It was a joy to welcome the company on to this amazing stage on Monday evening just before their first dress rehearsal.
Unlike today, during the Middle Ages all of the Church’s worship was conducted in Latin, including readings from the Bible.
Very few people, apart from the priests, knew the Bible story because they were ignorant of Latin.
So the Bible story was a ‘mystery’, and that’s why Mystery Plays started in several English towns, including Chester, Coventry and York.
When the Bible story was presented as a drama it was understandable to everyone.
The original text of the Chester cycle of Mystery Plays survives, consisting of 24 mini-plays, and selected stories from both Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
The Chester plays stopped after the Reformation in the 16th century, but were revived in 1951 and are a current triumph as they include many of the local community working with professionals to recreate the stories.
These Plays represent a coming together of faith, entertainment, and community in a unique blend.
They aim to present the Bible story in a fresh and accessible way for the 21st century.
Do come and see for yourself and bring some friends to witness some familiar (and maybe unfamiliar) stories performed in the cathedral.
I do hope you reflect, smile, laugh and are moved by this exciting 2018 production.
The Chester Mystery Plays are performed in Chester Cathedral until July 14.
Tickets are available from www.chestermysteryplays.com , by telephone 01244 500959 or from Chester Cathedral box office.