Our weekly column devoted to the spectacular 2018 production of Chester Mystery Plays at the Cathedral is this week written by Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet member communities and wellbeing who explains why the Chester Mystery Plays are so important to the city of Chester
How do you sum up the heritage of our city?
With so many historic buildings, fascinating stories and events taking place throughout the year it’s not an easy question, but I’d argue the Chester Mystery Plays is a good place to start.
Today’s Mystery Plays attract an international audience to Chester.
Their success relies on performances from a local community cast of hundreds.
The Plays provide a great opportunity for non-professional dancers, singers, musicians and actors to perform on a professional stage.
There are also opportunities for those interested in behind the scenes activity, such as technical/stage management, administration, marketing and event management.
Cheshire West and Chester Council support the Chester Mystery Plays helping to raise additional resources, something we have a great track record for.
The Plays support our plans for thriving communities, specifically creating: ‘Vibrant and healthy communities with inclusive leisure, heritage and culture’.
Our culture strategy highlights the Chester Mystery Plays as being ‘synonymous with the vibrancy of the city’.
The ‘heritage and visual arts strategy’ states: ‘The city is the stage – we will act on it.’
We intend to do this through using its stories, traditions and visual arts to inspire and engage the community and its visitors; through bold creativity informed by the riches of archaeology, the built environment, archives, museum collections, parades and ideas.
The Chester Mystery Plays were originally performed by the City Guilds; a small exhibition opens at the Grosvenor Museum on May 14, telling the fascinating early history of the cycle of plays.
The later history, from 1951 onwards, will be explored in Within the Walls in Chester’s historic Water Tower.
The City Archives contain records of the Guilds building a family of giants and mythical creatures to perform the Midsummer Watch parade in the years in between the Mystery Plays.
Now billed as the oldest and most colourful parade in the country, this is one tradition that’s been broken as the parades now take place every year and will return on June 23 and 24 to welcome the Mystery Plays.
The Chester Mystery Plays will be performed at Chester Cathedral from June 27-July 14.
Tickets are available from www.chestermysteryplays.com , by telephone 01244 500959 or in person at the Chester Cathedral box office.