Playing a Part in History: The York Mysteries, 1951–2006

Playing a Part in History: The York Mysteries, 1951–2006

By Margaret Rogerson
University of Toronto Press, 2009
ISBN: 9870802099242

The York Mystery Plays are a cycle of originally performed on wagons in the city. They date from the fourteenth century and Biblical narrative from Creation to Last Judgment. After nearly four hundred years without a performance, a revival of the York Mysteries began in 1951 when local amateurs led by professional theatre practitioners staged them during the festival of Britain. Playing a Part in History examines the ways in which the revival of these plays transformed them for twentieth- and twenty-first-century audiences.

Considering such topics as the contemporary popularity of the plays, the agendas of the revivalists, and major production differences, Margaret Rogerson provides a fascinating comparison of medieval and modern English drama. Drawing extensively on archival material, and newspaper and academic reviews of the plays in recent years, Playing a Part in History is not only an illuminating account of early English drama, but also of the ways in which theatre allows people to interact with the past.

University Profile of Margaret Rogerson

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