York Mystery Plays

[Skip navigation]

Search the NCEM archive

Search the archive for

Show a full index A-Z

Item details

Press Cuttings : 1984 Press Cuttings

Item type: Press Cuttings
Archive reference: YMP/F/11
Date/year: 1984 and 2024
Description: The NCEM has quite a large collection of cuttings from 1984, when the Mystery Plays were produced in Museum Gardens, with Simon Ward playing Jesus.  A recent acquisition is a Yorkshire Evening Press 60-page Guide to York, full of local attractions, shops, eating and entertainment options.  It has two pages on the Jorvik Viking Centre, a new museum just opened at Easter 1984.  Press cuttings are catalogued under F then chronologically, so F/11 is 1984. A large number of items focus on the fact that God was played by a black actor, Keith Jefferson, who was a teacher in York.  Below is text from the York Press Festival Supplement, found in a scrapbook recently donated by the family of Ursula Groom but actually compiled by Rosemary and Arthur Pickering.
Festival 84 Supplement page two has headline 'Support for Jesus': "Local amateur actors and actresses of course provide the support to the professional during the Mystery Plays and since March they have been rehearsing. Forty-seven of them were given key speaking parts and many will take more than one role. They include a 13-year-old schoolboy as the boy Jesus, and bearded, black local teacher Keith Jefferson who is to be God the Father.  Keith Jefferson, who is 33, is an impressive 6ft 1in schoolteacher and comes from San Francisco.  Asked why he thinks he got the part, Mr Jefferson said "I suppose I have a sonorous presence and I certainly fill the stage". He lives with his Swiss wife Heidi and their six month old son in Acomb and teaches at the Ryedale Waldorf School in Bishophill, York. He also played Herod.  His opposite number, so to speak, is Philip Tait, another teacher, from Norton, who is to play Lucifer. Experienced on the amateur stage in Hull and Humberside, where he has appeared with the Northern Theatre Company, he has not taken part in the Mystery Plays.  The Virgin Mary is to be played by 19-year-old student Jane Snowden, whose home is in York. Jane will also play the part of Mary the Mother as well as the younger Mary.  The director has chosen to include the Spurriers' and Lorimers' Play, where the boy Jesus debates with the learned Doctors in the Temple, and schoolboy Iain Snodgrass, who attends Ashfield Secondary Modern School in York has been chosen for this part. He is a member of the York Academy of Dramatic Art and lives at Woodthorpe, York.  Father Hugh Curristan, of the English Martyrs church in York, who has had many parts in the Plays in the past, is taking the part of one of the Doctors in the Temple.  Others who have appeared in the Mystery Plays before include John Ramsden, York's Registrar of Births Marriages and Deaths during his working day, and he will be playing Peter.  York coroner, Tony Morris, plays Annas, and Alan Inglis, manager of a kitchen furniture firm and living in Huntington, plays Beelzebub.  York housewife Betty Doig, who has previously played both Mary the Mother and Martha, is this time cast as Anna the prophetess."
In 2024 the 3 April Nostalgia page of the York Press had two images from the 1984 Plays (among other 1984 photos): spread with 10 b/w photos of 1984 including Frankie Howard dressed as a Roman at the Multangular Tower; and the courtyard of Coppergate being paved.  Bottom left is a photo of the Crucifixion in the 1984 Mystery Play, with Simon Ward hanging on the cross and disciples (presumably) around him.  Bottom right is image of four women, two in costume, captioned "1984,  a drink during the interval at the York Mystery Plays". 
This cutting is filed as YMP/F/39.

< Go back