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New York Mystery Plays

Posted on 24 June 2011

The New York Mystery Plays premiered to a full house at the National Centre for Early Music in a spectacular concert set within the Festival of Ideas. Created entirely by students of the Department of Music, University of York under the direction of Ambrose Field, the New York Mystery Plays are a new contemporary response to York’s medieval Mystery play cycle.

York students taking part in the New York Mystery Plays

Our starting point was the idea that the Mystery Plays were originally entertainments written by the people, for the people. Their themes were those that anyone in the audience would be already familiar, and were often grand in their narrative aspiration. As a result, our plays juxtaposed traditional stories (such as a new interpretation of the “flood” play) with responses to the issues within our present day culture (sensitively dealt with by our students in the “superinjunction” play). Set in five partially-staged tableaux, the New York Mystery Plays mixed historical approaches to music with modern, creative realisations and digital imaging. Instead working from the assumption that the past is a historical artefact , we adopted present day working methods to discover new musical material within our medieval sources.

Extracts from New York Mystery Plays

Performed at the National Centre for Early Music
Created by Students from The Department of Music, University of York

Directed by Ambrose Field
17th June 2011