York Mystery Plays

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Press Cuttings : 2015 Press Cuttings

Item type: Press Cuttings
Archive reference: YMP/F/8
Date/year: 2015
Description: The NCEM's press cuttings for 2015 are filed as YMP/F/32.
They begin in January 2015:
Cutting from York Press about a book by Paul Furness which gives a history of York not generally known.  Illustrated, pages 22 and 23 of Press 26 January 2015.  Includes a photo of 2012 Mystery Play production and a photo of Hans Hess.  Under heading "The Nazi refugee and the York Mystery Plays" the book is said to describe Hans Hess coming to York in 1936 and "When the Festival of Britain never got north of Watford in 1951,  Hess decided to put York on the map by starting a Festival of the Arts with the Mystery Plays at the heart of it.  "The most important thing Hess did for York was revive the Mystery Plays, that unique cycle of communal plays charting the story of the medieval world view from creation to Armageddon which had been suppressed since 1569"....thanks to a German Jewish asylum seeker they have continued to be performed ever since".  
"Family mourns Edith, 104, who wanted to be astronaut."  Cutting from York Press, February 13 2015 with photograph of Edith McHugh, who has died at the age of 104 with her daughters Christine (left) and Susan (right).  The text says that Mrs McHugh came to York in 1950 with her husband who became Head of the Dept of Commerce within York Technical College and subsequently its Vice Principal..  Among the text: " She enjoyed doing voluntary social work at schools, and as a dressmaker was in charge of head dresses for the Mystery Plays, at that time performed at St Mary's Abbey, where she also assisted with costume changes." ... three generations of the family celebrated her birthday in August 2010.  
Cutting from York Press of 19 February 2015.  Letters page.  It repeats the above colour photo of Edith McHugh who had died aged 104, with her two daughters, celebrating 100th birthday.  This accompanies a letter from Margaret Scott at the NCEM beneath, confirming that Mrs McHugh had contributed to the Mystery Plays of 1960, 1963, 1966, 1969 and 1973.  Confirms that the NCEM's computer record shows her as 'Head-dress mistress' in 1969.  The letter also asks if Christine McHugh in 1957 and Alice McHugh in 2000 (also found in the archive) were part of the family tradition.  Mentions the archive and the computer search at the NCEM.
Two cuttings from the York Press about the Mystery Plays returning to York Minster in 2016.  March 10 heading: "Mystery Plays to return to Minster", written by reporter Mike Laycock.  Two colour photos from the Millennium production:  Ray Stevenson (Christ) in the Crucifixion scene; and Noah's Ark with the rainbow of lights on the Minster roof.  The item includes  a quote from the Dean, the Very Rev Vivienne Faull, and a quote from Kate McMullen of Visit York.  They describe the 2000 production and refers to 2012 and to wagon productions.
March 12 is a full page in the York Press  (page 23), with a photograph of Nicola Corp, nominated as producer of the 2016 Minster production.   Headline inside the photograph of her, in front of the Minster, says: "If the chance comes knocking, you hear it." The article is an interview with Charles Hutchinson, Press editor, about her background and ideas.  "Nicola confirmed sponsorship is being sought from diverse sources but the finance is not yet in place for a production that (if it were to match the Millennium Plays and 2012 plays) would cost north of £1 million to mount."  There will be no reduced price for York residents.
Cutting from York Press,  25 March 2015 about the Merchant Adventurers' records, including those about the Mystery Plays.  Colour photo of Rita Freedman (Honorary Archivist to the Adventurers) inspecting the 1433 inventory on parchment at the Hall; of the Merchant Adventurers' Hall; photo of Merchant Adventurers current archivist Jill Redford in the Great Hall; a photo of the charter of December 1356 which was issued by Sir William Percehay (Percy) granting land for the Hall; photo 'Old Accounts' . The roll of accounts which lists the building costs of the Hall built for the fraternity which later became the guild of Merchant Adventurers, and behind, the 15th century Cartulary, a medieval volume containing transcriptions of original documents.  The text explains that the Merchant Adventurers' documents are very well preserved because of the old oak chest in which they were kept over the centuries.  The records show that the Mercers were the guild responsible for producing the Wagon Play The Last Judgement.  This rich guild could afford to produce this  expensive play.
York Press 15 May 2015  Cutting of article by Charles Hutchinson with colour photograph.  Caption: Mystery Tour de Force: The team behind the Mystery Plays at York Minster.  From left Max Jones, Mike Poulton, Dr Richard Shephard, Phillip Breen. Text: the production team is in place for the York Mystery Plays 2016.  It will be led by director Phillip Breen, designer Max Jones and the writer and musical director of the Millennium Mystery Plays in 2000, Mike Poulton and Richard Shephard.   Mr Breen flew in from this week's triumphal opening of his Japanese production of Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending in Tokyo to attend the unveiling of the 2016 line-up.  Alongside him in the minster were Max Jones, Mike Poulton, a specialist in epic theatre, and Dr Richard Shephard, former headmaster of the Minster School from 1985 to 2004 and now Visiting Fellow at the Dept of Music, University of York.  "I'm directing the Mystery Plays first of all because I was asked, but also I was genuinely looking for new opportunities. He said,  "I really wanted to do something new and these two productions came along."  As he visited the Minster again yesterday he was struck by the magnitude of the building and the challenge ahead. "Awesome," was his reaction as he looked around him, contemplating "this great building full of people.  Presenting these plays here is about the shared imagination of people, which is the most important thing about theatre."
Cutting from York Press 20 May 2015 about the death of Ruth Ford, aged 83.  She had played God in the Mystery Plays in the Theatre Royal in 1996 (controversial casting of a woman for the first time).  The article lists other roles she had played, including Shakespeare.  She first played Dame Percula in 1972 then Mary Magdalene in 1976.  Black and white photo of Ruth, head only.
Cutting from York Press of 21 May 2015 by Charles Hutchinson headed 'Dame, God, Queen Ruth had that stature'.  Colour photo of Ruth Ford on York city walls, promoting the Mystery Plays in 2010; and smaller colour photo of her 'in role' in Chekhov's 'Three Sisters', 2010.   Quotes from Artistic Director Damien Cruden about Ruth's talents and her gravitas as one of the Magi in the 2012 Mystery Plays.  Born on the Isle of Wight, the granddaughter of a music hall performer, Ruth first performed in Kenya.  She was a stalwart of York Settlement Community Players and played Goneril and Juliet's nurse for York Shakespeare Project.  Her funeral was in St Laurence's Church, York, with many actors and friends attending.
Cutting from York Press, May 22 2015.  Photograph of Barley Hall (owned and run by York Archaeological Trust) with "Henry VIII" in costume at a feast.   The text says that a major new exhibition in this medieval house will have information and costume about Henry VIII and that there will be information about the Guilds. "with the next set of York Mystery Plays planned for 2016, looking at the Guilds of York who made the city one of the most prosperous in the country by the time of Henry's visit". (In fact the Guilds organised wagons in 2018, see this page).
York Press on 5 August 2015 announced that meetings would be held on 5, 9, 22 and 27 September with a chance to audition tor a part in the York Mystery Plays.  "All are welcomed to come to hear director Phillip Breen and producer Nicky Corp who will outline what the plays will involve and will invite people to sign up for an audition or to work behind the scenes.  The plays will run from 26 May (which will be Corpus Christi day in 2016) and will close on 30 June 2016."
The York Press of 3 September repeats the call to attend one of the four events to find out more and decide about involvement.  The York Press of 7 September reports that 200 people attended on 5 September, filled with a sense of energy and willingness.  Director Phillip Breen will be asking potential actors to learn some of the script for auditions but they also need many more Mystery Makers backstage, from set to wardrobe to cast organisers.
The York Press of 17 September announced that the Duke of York would be the Patron of the 2016 Plays and the Archbishop of York would be the President. 
York Press article 24 November: Mystery Plays set to be a massive event.  Tickets for the Mystery Plays 2016 - the biggest event York Minster has ever staged - go on sale on Wednesday January 13.  The Minster's nave will be transformed into a 1000 seater auditorium for the production of the famous plays, which return to the cathedral for the first time in 16 years, and the second time in their history, in May for a five-week run.  In keeping with tradition, a community cast will form the heart of the production with just one professional actor.  The cast will be supported by an army of backstage volunteers, the York Minster Mystery Makers.  The scale of the production and anticipated high demand for tickets has prompted the Minster to invite a number of experienced box office providers, both national and regional, to tender for the contract.  A "combination of strong track record, local knowledge and expertise" resulted in the Box Office contract being offered to York Theatre Royal.  Nicola Corp, producer of the York Minster Mystery Plays 2016, said, "We're delighted to be working with York Theatre Royal to provide our Box Office for the York Minster Mystery Plays in 2016.  This will be a fabulous production on a monumental scale - we're expecting over 40,000 people to come and see the Plays over the course of their run.  Customer service is crucial to us, as is the rich Plays tradition in the city, so who better to work with than the York Theatre Royal?  In a strong field of potential providers, no-one offered a better service than our (almost) neighbours, so we're looking forward to working together very much."
The Plays opened in the Minster on 26 May 2016 and ran for 41 performances, the most ever.

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