A company of more than 300 players, makers, and stitchers met for the first time yesterday (Sunday, January 29) to begin preparations to put on the 2023 cycle of the Chester Mystery Plays.
An all-community cast and crew present this show once every five years, the 2023 company hails an ensemble of actors, singers, musicians, dancers, set, prop, and costume makers, as well as a team working in front of the house, drawn from Cheshire, Merseyside, North Wales, Wirral, Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme, and Milton Keynes. The mystery plays originate in medieval Chester telling Bible stories as if they took place in Cheshire’s county town.
Director John Young, composer, and musical director Matt Baker, and designer Jess Curtis welcomed the company and introduced their vision for the UK’s largest regularly produced community theatre project, which will be performed at Chester Cathedral in the summer.
John, who has recently finished a stint as staff director at London’s National Theatre, said:
“I woke up today just like it was Christmas morning. This production has been years in the planning and it was so wonderful to finally meet the people who are going to tell this story – the greatest ever told.”
The last Chester Mystery Plays cycle was in 2018, before the COVID pandemic. Chair of the Chester Mystery Plays company Ian Sanderson said:
“It was quite emotional to be able to welcome such a huge community cast, considering the challenges we have all faced over the past three years. There were many new faces and it was lovely to see players who have taken part before – it was a joy to behold.”