Modern Mysteries

Modern Mysteries

Contemporary Productions of Medieval English Cycle Dramas

Katie Normington





A lively account of the modern staging of the medieval mystery plays, richly illustrated with stills and other photographs.
The turn of the last millennium saw a sudden flourishing in the revival of the medieval mystery plays, with a number of different productions being staged across the country and further afield. But why were they staged? What features of the plays attracted the modern-day director? What can the mystery plays offer today's producers, directors, participants and audiences? This book seeks to answer these questions.
Beginning with an exploration of the original staging conditions, the study goes on to examine the reasons why the plays are produced today, and through a series of case studies looks at how notions of community, identity and space are articulated within contemporary stagings: it considers productions at Chester, Chichester, Leeds, Lichfield, Lincoln, Toronto, Worsbrough, and York, as well as productions by the Royal National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Importantly, the author uses evidence gleaned from interviews with directors and producers, and observation of rehearsals, and performances, to bring a fresh and modern perspective to bear. Richly illustrated.

KATIE NORMINGTON is Professor of Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London.


October 2007
24 black and white illustrations
222 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843841289
Format: Hardback
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Table of Contents

Playing the Drama: Mystery Plays in Medieval England
Playing the Plays Today: Staging, Concept and Community
Pageant Staging: Experiments with the York Cycle
From Outside to Inside: Fifty Years of the Plays at York
Spatial Places: Chester, Lichfield and Lincoln
Bryden/Harrison's The Mysteries, Royal National Theatre
Katie Mitchell's The Mysteries, Royal Shakespeare Company
Coventry Millennium Mysteries
Chichester Youth Theatre and the Mysteries
Community Theatre at Wosborough
Conclusion: Mysteries End?


Succeeds in documenting the rich variety of reconstructions, adaptations, and appropriations of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. THEATRE SURVEY
(T)here is much for those interested in how modern directors and actors find ways to make the plays work. COMPARATIVE DRAMA
In bringing together information from a vast array of sources and witnesses, including her own experiences, Normington creates a great resource for scholars, students and directors. (.) The book would make excellent reserve reading for any course exploring contemporary production of medieval plays. A welcome, lucid and interesting synthesis and analysis of responses to medieval drama in the contemporary world. SPECULUM
The value of Normington's work lies in the detailed reflections on a number of modern productions, from York, Lincoln and Lichfield, Chichester and Worsborough, to the big professional enterprises such as the Bryden-Harrison productions of The Mysteries, and Katie Mitchell's work with the RSC. TLS

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