Chester Mystery Plays

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Every five years the spectacle and history, miracles and mystery of the Chester Mystery Plays come to the city. 

Written in the 14th century by Benedictine monks of the Abbey of St Werburgh (now Chester Cathedral), the plays tell Bible stories from The Creation to The Last Judgment with a special Chester twist.  

Mystery plays were banned in the 15th century for their bawdiness and ‘Popery’ although Chester was the last to concede with performances going on into the late 1500s.  A modern revival began in 1951 to celebrate the Festival of Britain.

The plays were originally performed by the Freemen and Guildsmen in the city streets but for the first time ever this year, they will be presented in the nave of Chester’s historic cathedral, their spiritual home.

A large community cast presents this new version, written by Stephanie Dale.  Traditionally performed over two nights, Stephanie has recrafted the original texts into one performance. 

Twelve of the original plays will be performed live on stage with others represented using various media including film, art installations, podcasts and pre-show and interval entertainment.

The 2013 production is directed by the award-winning theatre director and radio drama producer Peter Leslie Wild with original music by Matt Baker. 

The Chester composer, who wrote original scores for both the 2003 and 2008 cycles of plays, has created a work for a range of instruments from the cathedral’s magnificent organ to the didgeridoo, the accordion, saxophone, drums, hurdy gurdy and hardanger fiddle.  A choir of one hundred will sing all styles of music from spirituals to close harmony trios.

Judith Croft’s stunning set will transform the cathedral nave into God’s workshop and raked seating will be installed to ensure that everyone has a good view.

The Chester Mystery Plays are at Chester Cathedral from June 26 – July 13 2013
Tickets from £19 (previews £12) from 01244 500959 or www.chestermysteryplays.com

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