In England of the 13th and 14th centuries, the Mystery Plays developed to bring biblical stories to the streets. Performed by the appropriate Town’s Guild (early Trade Unions), the Water Carriers performing Noah’s Flood, the Goldsmiths, The Coming of the Kings.
Most towns in Medieval England may have had their own plays, including Chester. Each broadly reflecting the values and identities of their home city.
Chester, a border town with Wales and then a port, is more roughly comic and violent than the others.
Performed over three days during Whitsun it was a fantastic opportunity for the craftsmen to not only demonstrate their religious fervour, ensuring a reward in the afterlife, but also to showcase their worldly skills and abilities, thus attracting new clients and markets.
South African-based theatre company Portobello Isango’s version of the Chester Cycle is a complete reworking of their past productions of these plays, now adapted for a core chamber group of Isango’s senior performers. Creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah, The Nativity, The Miracles, The Crucifixion and The Resurrection will be told in Xhosa, Zulu, English, Latin and Afrikaans with choral music, a capella singing, township percussion and dance.
As part of Manchester Medieval Quarter Festival, we present a filmed version of this performance.
‘Utterly captivating … an exhilarating sensory feast.’
‘Sensational … Shows as moving and uplifting as this only arrive once in a blue moon’