Propose a Play for the Medieval Mystery Cycle!

Sign-up is now open for the Oxford Medieval Mystery Cycle! Just follow this link to propose a play and to join one of the highlights of the Oxford Medieval Studies calendar, which will be held on Saturday 22 April 2023 at St Edmund Hall.

Following a hugely popular medieval tradition, we are looking for groups to perform a series of short plays retelling stories from the Bible. We are keen to cover a wide variety of (medieval) languages, but you don’t have to be a theatre professional or even a medievalist – all you need is lots of enthusiasm for what is above all a fun and unique experience. In the last years, plays have included:

  • The Creation and Fall
  • The Killing of Abel
  • Noah
  • Abraham
  • The Annunciation and Visitation
  • Shepherds
  • Wise Men
  • Herod the Great
  • John the Baptist
  • Lazarus
  • The Crucifixion
  • The Harrowing of Hell
  • The Resurrection
  • The Last Judgement

Feel free to propose other plays, or even to write your own – as long as the topic is not already taken, so don’t wait too long! You can see which plays have already been proposed here.

We have previously had plays in English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian, but offers for plays in other languages, including Welsh, Dutch, Latin, or Hebrew are also very welcome! Some mystery plays are easily accessible online: this includes plays in Middle English (the York, Towneley, and N-Town plays), Old French (the Seinte Resurreccion), Middle High German (the Innsbrucker Osterspiel), or Old Spanish (the Auto de los Reyes Magos). And don’t worry if you don’t have enough actors or haven’t found a group yet: we can help you put out a call for actors and link you up with other people interested in participating. All you have to do is get in touch.

For inspiration, have a look at the mystery cycles of the last few years! You can even watch recordings of the cycles in 2019 and 2022 on YouTube. (Or, alternatively, you can watch the much more professional recordings of the 1985 National Theatre Mysteries.) A small budget is available for props and costumes.

Watch the 2022 medieval English master’s students rising from the tomb as multiple Lazari!

Timeline:

  • Sign up now by following this link or emailing Michael Angerer, the Medieval Mystery Cycle convenor!
  • We will hold a workshop on how to cut longer plays on Friday of Week 1 in Hilary Term at 3–5pm (20 January 2023) on site at St Edmund Hall. This is open both to fully fledged groups and aspiring directors, with coffee and cake provided.
  • We will hold a workshop on voice projection at the end of Hilary Term.
  • You will have the opportunity to rehearse on location at St Edmund Hall during Week 0 of Trinity Term.
  • Dress rehearsals will take place on the morning of Saturday of Week 0 of Trinity Term (22 April 2023).
  • The Mystery Cycle will be performed from 12–5pm on Saturday 22 April 2023, with two half-hour breaks for tea, coffee, and cake.

Cake sale: we are also looking for people to bake cake and help run a charity cake stall on the day – if you’re interested, please get in touch!

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