York Mystery Plays

[Skip navigation]

The People

Below are illustrations of some of the notable people who have been involved in the York Mystery Plays since 1951. The Archive holds every programme and every castlist. The page attached to this one names people performing key roles by year. We even have in the archive here a castlist of the 1909 York Pageant (which included the Shepherd's Play from the Corpus Christi Plays).

Victor Banerjee 1988
Victor Banerjee

Jesus: 1988

Steve Bielby as God
Steve Bielby
God: 2010 (and other years)

Peter Blanshard 1969
Peter Blanshard

Jesus: 1969.  One of three actors playing Jesus, Lucifer and Judas in rotation, that year.

David Bradley 1976
David Bradley

Jesus: 1976. A York man who became a professional actor

E Martin Browne
E. Martin Browne

Director: 1951, 1954, 1957, 1966

Tom Criddle 1960
Tom Criddle
Jesus: 1960

Judi Dench as angel
Judi Dench

Angel of the Resurrection: 1954 (also Angel: 1951 and Mary: 1957); Wagon Plays patron

Betty Doig as countrywoman
Betty Doig
Actor, Props and Wardrobe since 1974.

Greg Doran, 2000
Greg Doran

Director: 2000 (Minster Millennium production)


Roger Farrington1980
Roger Farrington

Shepherd 1980 and many other roles

Ruth Ford, Last Judgement
Ruth Ford
God: 2002 (also God 1996 and various roles since 1973)

Dean Furnell, 2000
Very Rev Ray Furnell, Dean of York
Chairman: Millennium production in York Minster

Patrick Garland 1980

Patrick Garland

Director: 1980

David Giles 1960
David Giles
Director: 1960

Robson Green 1992
Robson Green

1992: Jesus (Robson Green) tempted by Lucifer (Jonathan Mellor)

Ursula Groom 1994
Ursula Groom

Here wardrobe 1994. Various roles including Treasurer of Festival Trust. Her records have been donated to the NCEM for the Mystery Plays Archive.

John M Hall

John M Hall

God: 2000 (and other roles in other years)

Hans Hess

Hans Hess

Curator of York Art Gallery: Asst. Director, 1951 Festival, Artistic Dir 1954 Festival

John Heu in 1957

John Heu

Lazarus: 1957 (and Judas 1951, 1954, 1966)

Jane Howell 1976
Jane Howell
Director: 1976 (first woman to direct the Plays)

Satan 1963

Ian McShane

Lucifer/Satan 1963

Rory Mulvihill
Rory Mulvihill

Herod: 2012 (and numerous roles including Annas, 2016)

Jane Oakshott
Jane Oakshott MBE
Director (wagon plays): 1994, 1998

Joseph O'Conor
Joseph O'Conor
Jesus: 1951, 1954

Patrick Olsen on set
Patrick Olsen
Set designer: 1969 (also photographer and donor to NCEM archive)

Stephen Pimlott

Stephen Pimlott

Director: 1988

Richard Shephard

Richard Shephard MBE

Composer and Musical Director: 2000 and 2016

Eileen Skaife- rehearsal

Eileen Skaife
Citizen: 1960 (far left) Besides playing various roles, she donated photographs and scrapbooks to the NCEM archive.

Brian Spink Jesus 1957

Brian Spink
Jesus: 1957, the year Queen Elizabeth met the cast.

Geraldine Stephenson

Geraldine Stephenson
Director of Movement: 1951, 1954, 1957

Ray Stevenson, 2000
Ray Stevenson

Jesus: 2000 (first Minster production)

Edward Taylor
Edward Taylor
Director: 1969, 1973

Christopher Timothy
Christopher Timothy
Jesus: 1980 (he also opened the play as 'Nick the Carpenter', an Everyman figure)

Delma Tomlin MBE

Dr Delma Tomlin MBE
Director: York Festival; Chief Executive of Millennium production; Founding Director: NCEM

Paul Toy
Paul Toy
Asst. Director: 2000, Musical Director of Wagons: 2002, 2006, 2014, Artistic Director of Wagons: 2010

Mike Tyler 2010 Jesus

Mike Tyler
Jesus: 2010 (and many other roles, including Pageant Master for wagon plays and interviewer for the archive)

1973 Herod
Douglas Waft
Herod: 1973; also Joseph: 1968

Simon Ward on cross

Simon Ward
Jesus: 1984 (photo from 1988 programme)

John Westbrook

John Westbrook
Jesus: 1966

John White

John White
Jesus: 1969, one of the three actors playing Jesus that year: see the attached page.

Professional actors who started their careers in the York Mystery Plays are known to include: Judi Dench, Jane Snowdon, David Bradley, John White (stage name = Richard Conway), Edward Petherbridge, Mary Ure, Janet McTeer, Richard Coyle, Toby Gordon, Joe Hopper. The NCEM would like to extend this list.

If you would like to add someone to this page, or have archival material which you would like to share with the archive volunteer at the National Centre for Early Music, please see the Contact Us page. This page helps you navigate - it lists all the main pages and their attachments.