More emotion please son
I will never forget the day, during rehearsal, I delivered the line: 'Surely, this man was the Son of God!' and my mum (who was directing our Mystery Play down in Twickenham at the time) shouted at me: ‘MORE EMOTION! That was so flat!!!’
It changed my life being in the Medieval Mystery Plays back in 1998, and even that small part of the soldier who was overwhelmed with the power of Jesus’ death, has never left me. My mum’s production was quite different to the gargantuan Chester production. However, it was set in a large church building (St Stephen’s, Twickenham) we cleared it of all its chairs, put straw down on the floor, built a handful of mini stages and performed all round the building for a travelling audience. I am sure, anyone who has taken part in, or who has watched a Mystery Cycle put on well, can testify to the power of the event and what a joy it is to experience it.
I never imagined that, (twenty years on) I would end up being a director on the board of the Chester Mystery Cycle, or become the Priest in Charge of Chester, St Peter – the Guild’s Church of Chester. (Another director is writing about the magnificent historical link between the Guild’s and the Mystery Plays – so I will leave that to her). It is such a privilege to live in Chester and it is such a privilege to have a city that honours its cultural heritage by maintaining its Mystery Cycle. One year, I will perform in it again and I significantly encourage all to have a go, get involved or buy a ticket.
St Peter’s sits at the very heart of the city of Chester, established in 907 by Queen Ethelfleda. It has stood year after year, change after change, looking down upon the many different manifestations of the Medieval Mystery plays. The shape and history of Chester is still inextricably linked to the Medieval Mystery stories. In 2016 and 2017, the Chester Mystery Plays partnered with a large number of Chester churches and put on Chester City Passion on Good Friday. A 45 minute production of the death of Christ that began at The Cross in Chester, right at the door step of St Peter’s, and then journeyed through the city to finish with Jesus on the cross at the front door of the Cathedral. Well over 5000 people came to see the spectacle and were awed into silence in the final moments as the rain began to fall.
If you are in any doubt about going to see the Chester Mystery Cycle, may I encourage you to book your tickets now, or buy one for a friend and bless them with a life altering experience (and a lot of fun).