The renowned Chester Mystery Plays will be streamed on YouTube on Good Friday for the first time in its 700-year history.
The live recordings of Act I and Act II of the 2018 cycle, directed by Peter Leslie Wild at Chester Cathedral, will be broadcast at 10.30am on Friday 10 April and remain available online to view for eight weeks.
The production, which was watched by more than 7000 people, was highly acclaimed by critics describing it as ‘an impressive spectacle’ (The Stage), ‘an artistic triumph’ (The Chester Chronicle), ‘a celebration of a community’ (Northern Soul) and ‘powerful and magnificent’ (North West End).
Many of the 150 community actors in the original production were due to take part in the Chester City Passion on Good Friday, a promenade performance throughout the city starting at 10.30am, but the event was cancelled in mid-March in light of social restrictions imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Peter Leslie Wild said: “This broadcast is a wonderful opportunity for cast members, friends and the people of Chester especially to be reminded of happier times.
Community theatre plays such an important role in people’s lives and in these days of social distancing and isolation many will be missing the friendship and companionship of projects like the Chester Mystery Plays and the Chester City Passion.”
The Chester Mystery Plays, which tell Bible stories including the Creation, Noah’s Ark, The Nativity and The Crucifixion were first written in the 14th century and performed by the guildsmen of the city on wagons around the streets.
Since the modern revival of the plays in 1951, they have been performed in the city once every five years and the 2018 cycle was written by Deborah McAndrew and designed by Dawn Allsopp, with original music composed and directed by Matt Baker.
The recording was made by PH Production Services Ltd and will be found on the Chester Mystery Plays channel on YouTube.
Ian Sanderson, chairman of the Chester Mystery Plays Company Ltd said: “I would like to thank the professional production team for agreeing to waive their rights to this production to allow us to stream it live on YouTube.
The Chester Mystery Plays are a huge commitment for our community cast and we are delighted to be able to share their performance with a wider audience during this difficult time.”
Subscribe to the Official Chester Mystery Plays YouTube Channel here to watch.