The critically acclaimed York Minster Mystery Plays’ final curtain fell on the 30th June, and today, almost one month later,York Minster unveils a new exhibition to mark and celebrate the theatrical triumph as the stories told in the Plays are put ‘Under the Spotlight’.
The Mystery Plays have been performed in the city of York for almost 700 years and dramatise the greatest story ever told from the creation of Heaven and Earth to the Last Judgement. They arestories of good versus evil, of life and death and of love, betrayal, loss and hope. Rooted in a rich story-telling tradition which has evolved over the centuries, the production offered a stark and often brutal reflection of the world today with their teachings ever-permanent: traditional yet beautifully contemporary.
Head of Collections, Vicky Harrison comments, “At their heart, the Mystery Plays are about people. Here in York Minster’s Nave they have provoked tears, laughter and thought. The stories deeply resonate with choices and challenges society still faces – love and hate, good and evil, tragedy, sacrifice and redemption. The production reaffirmed why the Plays are still integral to our own personal development as they ultimately ask us to examine how we live.”
The exhibition will focus on scenes and characters from the production as designer Max Jones’ awe-inspiring costumes and set pieces will be displayed centre stage in the most poignant of settings in the Lady Chapel at the foot of the Minster’s majestic Great East Window.
“Individuals such as Lucifer – The Proud One, Eve – The Tempted One and Abraham – The Faithful One will be placed under the spotlight as we ask what can be learnt from these stories told in some cases for over 3,000 years. At a time of increasing uncertainty we question if the teachings can offer insight and comfort and where the power to change might come from.” Vicky adds.
Director of Public Engagement, Richard Butterfield comments: “The York Minster Mystery Plays were a fantastic spectacle on an extraordinary scale. The Minster provided a truly beautiful and relevant setting which provided the audience with a profound and intensely moving experience. The Bible story was presented in a contemporary way bearing significance to those of faith and none in an engaging and welcoming manner; the qualities at the heart of York Minster’s mission. Our objectives for the production were to continue to explore these themes long after the show ended, to audience members and beyond.
This exhibition captures the spirit of the plays and provides a perfect opportunity to see the incredible props and design close to hand. Even more importantly, I hope the ‘Mystery Plays: Under the Spotlight’ will allow people to explore the timeless themes in the Plays through an immersive exhibition which is relevant to everyone.”
The exhibition runs 27 July to 31 October and is free with general admission charges. York residents can visit for free with proof of address.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday 9.00am – 5.00pm: Sunday 12.45pm – 5.00pm