Mystery Play at Great Malvern Priory26 Mar 2019 By James Atkinson
Thanks to support from National Lottery players, the Elmley foundation and the Bransford Trust, Great Malvern Priory is to be the setting for a modern Mystery Play after Easter.
The Mystery Play scheduled to take place in Malvern Priory from 24 April to 8 May is turning into a Malvern extravaganza with around 20 churches of all denominations becoming involved. Director Rob Swinton is delighted with the response he has had from all parts of the town.
‘We canvassed all the churches in Malvern, the Anglican churches, the Catholics, the Baptist and Methodists and the Quakers, inviting them to join us in whatever capacity suited them best,’ he said, ‘and the response has been excellent.'
‘The hospitality we received was great and over 100 Malvern people expressed an interest in either taking part or helping out. We have just had our first read through and, in 39 years as a professional theatre director, I have never been so moved by the thoughtfulness and emotion of a first reading of a script. It is going to be a wonderful production.’
Mystery Plays were first created to complement the stories told in stained glass windows in churches. The play tells the story of the world from its creation to its end and is being staged on a massive scale. The set will reach up towards the roof of the 1000 year old building, there will be four professional actors leading a cast of 32 amateurs plus a few retired professionals.
‘We now have our technical team in place,’ said Rob ‘and it will be stunning. God will be backlit from the West window and the set will transform the Priory into a new performance space designed by the man who created the sets for tv’s ‘Victoria’.
The church is able to put on the professional performance thanks to a grant from the National Heritage Lottery Fund. This sponsorship forms part of a larger grant given to the Priory to carry out repairs to the stonework and the funds raised from the production will go towards the project.
The production itself tackles current gender issues, with Adam eating the apple and Lucifer appearing as a woman, creating a role as complex and equal in size to that of Jesus.
Anyone who would like to get involved in any capacity from acting to ushering, backstage to refreshments, should contact Rob on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01684 564928.
The Mystery Play runs from April 26 to May 8 except Sunday and tickets are available from the Friends of the Priory Shop, the Priory Parish Office, Malvern Tourist Information or online.
Rob is also hoping to provide a special performance for people with hearing impairments and an audio description for those with sight difficulties.