The director of the UK’s largest regularly produced community theatre project is looking for hundreds of players, makers and stitchers to tell the greatest story ever told. John Young, director of the 2023 cycle of the Chester Mystery Plays, is calling for actors, musicians, singers, dancers, costume creators and prop makers for this exciting and world-renowned theatrical event.
Produced only once every five years in the city of Chester by a community cast and crew, the mystery plays were originally written and presented in medieval times. They are based on Bible stories including the Creation, Noah’s Ark, The Nativity and The Crucifixion.
John, whose Romeo and Juliet at the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre this summer received 4 and 5 Star reviews, said: “These plays are about love, betrayal, death and redemption – everything you need for great theatre.
“As well as actors of all ages and abilities, I am also looking for people who love to sing or move, enjoy playing instruments, and get great joy from sewing, creating and making things to join me in telling this fabulous story to a 21st century audience.”
The professional production team, including John, composer and musical director Matt Baker and designer Jess Curtis, will outline their vision for the 2023 cycle at an official launch at Chester Cathedral on Thursday, October 6 at 7pm to which everyone is invited.
John added: “Following the difficult years of the pandemic, community has become more important now than ever before.
“This momentous event only happens once every five years and now is the time to be bold and brave. Whether you have been in the Mystery Plays before, never heard of them or just curious to find out more, come along to the launch and hear all about our plans.”
Auditions for named parts as well as company and chorus roles will take place during October and November and rehearsals will begin in January 2023.
Everyone who auditions or expresses an interest in working backstage on costumes, props and the set will be given a role. Acting parts include God, Mary Magdalene, Jesus, Lucifer, Pilate, Noah and Mrs Noah as well as chorus roles including gawpers, animals on the ark, disciples, Roman soldiers and devils.
Nick Sheratt was an actor in the 2018 cycle. He said: “Playing Jesus was such a humbling experience. There’s something really special about bringing a part of yourself and your interpretation to this role, and I can’t wait to see how the next person does this.”
Kiri Thompson, who played Nuntius and an angel added: “Being part of the Mystery Plays was truly special. I met so many people and have made friends for life – I would highly recommend joining the next cycle!”
Sarah Dyne played Eve and she summed up her feelings in just two words – ‘life-changing’.
The Chester Mystery Plays Company Limited was formed in 1986 to produce the plays in five yearly cycles and to retain their heritage, tradition, history and integrity in the context of their original setting.
Chair Ian Sanderson said: “Every new Chester Mystery Plays cycle is an exciting time for everyone involved but after the two years we have all endured because of the pandemic, this one feels extra special. We look forward to welcoming everyone who wants to be part of this unique production, which is living history right at the heart of Chester.”
Marketing Director Colin Potts added: “We are grateful for the support of Cheshire West & Chester Council and local charitable trusts. The Plays’ heritage, their sense of community and their wide appeal also provide great opportunities for businesses to be associated with them. We will be unveiling some exciting sponsorship possibilities at the launch.”
If you are interested in attending the launch on October 6, the event is free and no ticket is required. Anyone can register an interest in being part of the Chester Mystery Plays 2023 before then by visiting chestermysteryplays.com/volunteer.
The Chester Mystery Plays will be performed at Chester Cathedral from June 28 – July 15 2023. Tickets will go on sale from October 7 2022 at the cathedral box office or via chestermysteryplays.com.