York Mystery Plays

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Press Cuttings : 1984 Press Cuttings

Item type: Press Cuttings
Archive reference: YMP/F/11
Date/year: 1984
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 large number of the items focus on the fact that God was played by a black actor, Keith Jefferson, who was a teacher in York. Press cuttings are catalogued under F then chronologically, so F/11 is 1984. 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 pf 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. 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 Mar the Mother and Martha, is this time cast as Anna the prophetess."


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