Film ID: YFA 592 YORK MYSTERY PLAY INTERVIEWS 1969 Visitor TabsDescription This Calendar News item reports on the 1969 production of the York Mystery Plays. It features interviews with the three actors portraying Jesus (Peter Blanshard, John White, and Gerald Lomas) as well as the producer Edward Taylor. In the backdrop of St. Mary’s Abbey in the York Museum Gardens, rehearsal is taking place. The first Jesus, Gerald Lomas of Pudsey, is being forced to pick up and carry the cross. The cross is then taken off him by the Roman soldiers. The second actor playing Jesus, Peter Blanshard of Upper Poppleton, is nailed to the cross. This rehearsal footage is intercut with close-ups of sorrowful Mary Magdalene. The reporter then speaks to the third actor playing Jesus, John White, about the role. He explains how he and the other actors share the role of Jesus as well as take in turns playing Judas and God in each performance. The other actors join him and discuss the difficulty of the role, emotionally and physically, sighting “crucifixion shoulder” as a result of carrying even a hollowed out cross. Next, the producer Edward Taylor speaks about the costume designs and the challenges of working on an amateur production of the Mystery Plays with actors from all over Yorkshire. The item ends with a brief shot of Blanshard hanging on the cross. Context Set against the atmospheric backdrop of St. Mary’s Abbey ruins, an interviewer quizzes three amateur actors on the challenges of portraying Jesus for the York Mystery Play production in ‘69. With an air of light-heartedness, actors explain the physical and emotional demands of the part of Christ at rehearsals for the epic, outdoor biblical re-enactment. The producer however brings more of a sense of the challenges faced in staging a production of this size and scale. With evidence of the first pageants dating back to the late 11th century, the York Mystery Plays dramatise the greatest story ever told - from the creation of heaven and earth, the resurrection of Christ to the last judgement. It is a story of good versus evil, of life and death, and of love, betrayal, loss and hope. The performances were revived in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain and, in keeping with the Plays’ heritage, cast members over the last 60 years have traditionally been amateurs drawn from the local community, with just one professional actor. Famous faces over the years have included Dame Judi Dench, Robson Green, David Bradley and Ray Stevenson.