York Minster’s magnificent Nave has been transformed into a 1,000-seater auditorium for the Mystery Plays and with tech rehearsals underway, costumes fitted and lines learnt, excitement is building as the final week of preparations begin.
The spectacular stage, the vision of multi-award winning designer Max Jones, has an area of 1,700sqm, weighs over 60 tonnes and took more than 2000 man-hours to complete, and that’s before lighting, seating and sound were installed.
A Yorkshire based company, Raise the Roof were tasked with the epic stage build. Dusty Rhodes, Managing Director comments, “If we laid the system scaffold used in building the stage and lighting towers end to end, it would go on for 10 kilometres, that’s about three times the length of the city’s walls.”
As the final artistic touches are added to the stage, the 150 strong community cast led by professional actor Philip McGinley, is facing the daunting challenge of tech rehearsals as opening night draws ever closer.
Director Philip Breen comments, "It's a huge thrill to see everyone fill this enormous stage. We're hitting a new phase - we've left the safety of the rehearsal room and we're in to the business end now, where we see everyone's work come together. It's very exciting. And daunting. These community actors are truly extraordinary...."
In accordance with tradition the Mystery Plays open on the feast day of Corpus Christi on 26 May. It’s the first time in 16 years and only the second time in their near 700 year history that the Mystery Plays have been performed at York Minster.
The momentous 3 week build has been caught on film and can be viewed below: