We’re very sentimental about York’s Mystery Plays- after all, it’s where HIDden began. The quadrennial event remains close to our collective heart, not just because of our history with it, or even because YMP really stands for a lot of the same things we do, but because we just had such a wonderful time working on that production.
Among the reasons we’re so excited to be revisiting the production for the upcoming YMP conference is that it gives us a chance to get our cast back together. We were extremely fortunate to have such a talented, dedicated, and personally lovely group of actors for The Baptism, and we’re equally lucky to welcome them back. We expect that our rehearsals will be full of fond memories from last year, and we asked the cast and crew to share some of their favourites before the event.
Charles Hunt (God) sent this photo. Taken in the Minster Gardens before our first performance, the joke was that it was a “family portait” of God (Charles), his son Jesus (Ehren Mierau), and the Holy Ghost as embodied by a dove.
Kate Thomas (Angel) remembers the downpour that had us all trapped in the waggon works when the area around it flooded. We’d just finished a rehearsal and put the waggon away for the night when it started to rain heavily, and the puddle that formed at the gate to the waggon works rose quickly to take over the entire driveway. A couple people from another group were stuck in a corner on a high bit of ground, also surrounded by water. Eventually someone opened up a blocked drain, and the water went down right away. We reflected later, though, that perhaps we should have taken advantage of the situation and put our waggon in the enormous puddle: wooden waggon wheels are challenging to keep damp, but it’s the best way to keep their metal rims from falling off.
Rain was also a problem the first day of performance. After the waggons had come into town, while we were waiting to film for the BBC’s broadcast, the skies opened up and poured down on us. We weren’t sure if it would pass in time for the filming, and had quite a waffling around with whether or not the angels should wear their easily damaged feathered wings if it didn’t. We spent the time waiting in the seating, one of the only dry places available. At one point someone pulled out a pin, a nod to the old question of how many angels could dance on its head- all three actors managed to get a finger on it, but it wasn’t quite a dance!
Ian Murphy (producer) and Nathan Bargate (production manager) both recalled with a laugh an incident from the building of the set. There was a question of whether the throne seat was safely secured and Nathan tested it by jumping on it rather enthusiastically. It wasn’t, and he fell into the throne. While he was stuck there, a crew member asked if he could offer an idea. “May I suggest… a cushion?” was his idea- not exactly useful at that moment, but amusing to all present.
Laura Elizabeth Rice (artistic director) recalls the performance in St Sampson’s Square as a favourite moment, because it was such a challenging location, with lots of noise, footfall and traffic. The cast handled it brilliantly, adjusting to these circumstances without missing a beat. At the end, one audience member who had been passing through was heard to remark, “If I’d known the plays were all like that, I’d’ve come out to see more!”- one of the nicer compliments for being unintentional, and especially in a space generally considered to be difficult.
We could probably go on at some length- there are an awful lot of “favourite moments” from last summer- but of course right now we’re looking forward to creating new memories among the company and for the audience. If you haven’t registered for the conference, do consider it. The mystery plays, in any form, usually find a way to be memorable.