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REED-L  October 1994

REED-L October 1994

Subject:

Re: Last Call--RORD Census of Medieval Drama Productions

From:

Richard Rastall <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 24 Oct 1994 15:45:58 GMT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (80 lines)

Dear Peter,
      I hope that you have some sort of report on the York Plays '94
or, if not, that the following won't be too late for your RORD
purposes: I'm sorry for the delay.
 
Nine of the York cycle pageants were performed in the streets of
York on 10 July 1994.  The production was initiated and directed by
Jane Oakshott, with myself as musical director, and presented by The
Friends of York Festival.
     Seven of the plays were mounted on waggons: the other two (The
Entry into Jerusalem and the Way to Calvary) are themselves
processions, and their producers decided not to use a waggon.  The
plays were performed at five stations: Dean's Park, King's Square,
York Market, St Sampson's Square and Parliament Street.  None of
these was an original station, but they provided a suitable
selection of locations not unlike some of the original ones.
     This performance included more plays, at more stations, than
had previously been attempted: and for the first time since the
sixteenth century local people were performing their own plays in
their own city streets.
     The plays (numbering from Beadle's edition) and performers
were:
 
8   The Building of the Ark          Centre for Medieval Studies,
                                        University of York
9   The Flood                        Lords of Misrule
12  The Annunciation and Visitation  Early Music Singers
14  The Nativity                     Foxwood Community Centre
 
                                        Players
15  The Shepherds                    Howdenshire Live Arts
25  The Entry into Jerusalem         St Luke's Church Players
34  The Way to Calvary               Poppleton Players
38  The Resurrection                 Arts York
45  The Assumption of the Virgin     York Settlement Players
 
The performance was part of the York Early Music Festival, and
producers were encouraged to choose plays with a musical content.
In three plays the cast sang: In The Flood Noah and his family sang
a psalm (112, Laudate pueri); in The shepherds the shepherds sang a
song (Sweet Jesus is Come to Us); and in The Entry into Jerusalem
the crowd sang an antiphon (Osanna filio David).
     In four plays, professional singers were cast for those roles
that demanded their expertise: Mary and Gabriel in The Annunciation
and Visitation; two angels in The Shepherds; the angel in The
Resurrection; and four angels in The Assumption of the Virgin. We
used polyphony in two of these: the angels sang a fifteenth-century
setting of Gloria in Excelsis in The Shepherds, and the four angels
in The Assumption sang the B versions of the three sung texts. In
addition, because The Assumption was ending the plays, with no
Coronation to follow it, the producer decided to end the play with a
tableau of the Coronation: and this tableau was accompanied by the
four angels singing the anonymous Ave Regina found in the painting
of the Assumption by the Master of the St Lucy Legend.
     All of this polyphony was probably receiving its first
performance since the 15th or 16th century.  The Cambridge Gloria
survives in no MS later than the early 15th century; this Ave Regina
survives nowhere but in this painting (c. 1490); and John
McKinnell's 1988 production of The Assumption used the simpler A
versions of the music in that play.
     There is apparently no minstrelsy in the York cycle, but we had
minstrels accompnying the waggons on in procession from one station
to another.
     The performance was preceded, on Saturday 9 July, by the
reading of the Proclamation by the Mayor's herald: first, in the
presence of the Lord Mayor, on the steps of the Mansion House, and
then at each station.  The Mayor's herald was accompanied by the
York Waits.
 
I hope that this is all clear and that it will be useful.  All good
wishes,
Richard
Dr G.R. Rastall
Department of Music,
University of Leeds,
Leeds LS6 9JT
UK
 
Tel: 0532 332581
Fax: 0532 332586

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