Chester Mystery Plays announced it will host a series of world-known mystery plays from June 28 to July 15, 2023, at Chester Cathedral nave in Chester, Cheshire. In addition, the boards appointed new directors for the critically acclaimed Mystery Plays.
The Chester Mystery Plays Board was established in 1986 and since then the plays have been performed in Chester once every five years.
Based on well-known Bible stories including The Nativity, Noah’s Ark, and The Crucifixion, Chester Mystery Plays are the largest regular community event in the UK.
Originally believed to have been written in the 14th century by the monks of the Abbey of St Werburgh (now Chester Cathedral) scholars still argue that the Plays’ bawdiness and irreverence mean that they were the work of other hands.
In the latest announcement from the Chester Mystery Plays board are the directors of the next cycle of the world-famous Chester Mystery Plays.
John Young, director of the critically acclaimed Merry Wives of Windsor at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, will direct the plays in Chester Cathedral nave in the summer of 2023.
John said: “The Chester Mystery Plays are such an important part of the fabric of the city, with its rich medieval history. The stories themselves are told with such a flavour of Chester and its people, I can’t wait to bring them to life for a modern audience.”
Matt Baker, who was awarded a BEM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, has been appointed composer and musical director. Artistic director of Theatre in the Quarter, Matt is well known for his Chester Mystery Plays scores having composed the music for every cycle since 2003.
Matt added: “Each Chester Mystery Plays cycle is unique because of the huge company, drawn from all over the county, who give up their time to be part of each amazing spectacle. I look forward to working with John on his vision for the medieval texts in a 21st-century world.”
In medieval times, the Plays were performed by the city’s Freemen and Guilds on pageant wagons around the city. They were banned under Queen Elizabeth I for ‘Popery’. The modern revival dates to the Festival of Britain in 1951.
Chairman of Chester Mystery Plays Ian Sanderson said
“We are delighted to announce John as the director of the next production. John has made his mark in the region with his work at Storyhouse, Theatr Clwyd and the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre and he is the perfect fit for our vision for 2023.”
“It is always a delight to work with Matt Baker. Music has always played a very important part in the production and he has such an inimitable way of engaging each and every one of our community company.”
There will be auditions for the 2023 cycle in 2022, and everyone who auditions will be guaranteed a role. For information on the auditions for the Chester Mystery plays cycle in 2023, please visit their website.