2016 Production Blog
Norwich Medieval Mystery Plays advert by Invoke for Norwich Castle.
The mystery plays are being put on after the castle closes, so you just need your tickets to enter the keep at 5.30pm. The restaurant will be open for beverages and snacks and the play starts at 6pm. Seats are not allocated so are on a first come first served basis when you arrive.
Book your tickets soon just £5 and children Free of Charge but need a ticket from the Castle ticket office 01603 495897
Peter Beck is a theatre director, set designer, actor and tutor. He has created work for a number of theatre venues and arts organisations, most recently at The Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich where he was Joint Creative Director. Productions there include ‘The Dresser’, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, ‘Return to the Forbidden Planet’, ‘Hamlet’, ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’, ‘Metamorphosis’, ‘The Elephant Man’, ‘The Philadelphia Story’, ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ and ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. He has written, directed, designed and performed for The Hostry Festival at Norwich Cathedral, where productions include ‘A Doll’s House’, ‘Hamlet – The Undiscovered Country’, ‘Night of the Iguana’ and ‘ The Rainmaker’. He has also directed productions for a number of other organisations, which have included ‘The Threepenny Opera’, ‘Man is Man’, ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’, ‘Drink with Me’, ‘Blue Remembered Hills’ and ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’, amongst others. His film and television credits include ‘The Chief’ (ITV), ‘Communication Studies’ (ITV), ‘Over Here’ (BBC,) ‘Ten Fish’ (Independent), ‘The Boy’ (Independent) and ‘All the Kings Men’ (BBC). He has provided voice-overs for a number live art events and commercials, as well as presented on radio. Peter has lectured at Norwich University of the Arts and taught for a number of youth theatre organisations. Along with producing the Norwich Medieval Mystery Plays, Peter is currently developing a brand new work for the stage, and tutoring for Norwich Theatre Royal’s Stage Two venue. He trained at the University of East Anglia, where he received a Masters in Theatre Direction and was awarded the Julian Award for Best Director
Roseanna trained at LAMDA and has since worked in theatre including: Alia, Nahda, Bush Theatre; Baby, UK Tour of Dirty Dancing, Playful Productions; Stacey/ Katie, No Borders, Oxford Playhouse/ Theatre 503; Murder in the Cathedral, Oxford Playhouse; Antigone, Southwark Playhouse; Lucia, Saffron Hill, Pleasance Theatre; Holly, At First Sight, UK Tour/Up in Arms; Bianca, Taming of the Shrew, International Tour/ Thelma Holt.Film includes: The Moonstone (BBC); Heidi, The New Boy; Kiran, True Stories, AVA/ Day for Night Films (New York Film Festival Gold World Medal 2015).
Mark spent his formative years in Norfolk, living in the small village of Upper Tasbrugh and attending Long Stratton High School and Eaton CNS Sixth Form. He has many happy memories of visiting the Castle Keep and is thrilled to be performing there.
Mark is in the Guinness Book of Records for performing in London’s West End “The Mousetrap” twice as different characters. He has played a small role in Kenneth Branagh's film ‘The Magic Flute’, ‘Leap’ which was screened on Channel 4 and ‘King Lear’ directed by Brian Blessed . Recently Mark appeared in The National Theatre’s ‘One Man Two Guvnors’ national tour.
Mark is delighted to be spending his Summer back in a place very close to his heart.
LGonfalons (from the early Italian confalone) is a heraldic banner or flag, first adopted by Italian medieval communes, and later by local guilds, corporations and districts. They had great significance as Christian religious objects in Europe during the medieval period. They usually consisted of a cloth supported by a wooden frame with a T-shaped support on the back, and a long pole to hold up the banner during ceremonies and processions. The banners were painted with oil paints, with images of patron saints of cities, guilds, the Virgin and Child, Jesus Christ, God the Father and other iconography. Later they would have been embroidered. The carrying of the banner during a procession was seen as an act of worship.
Colourful pageant wagons, built by local guilds, would have been pulled through the streets during such processions when there was to be a mystery play presented. Very little is known about the specifics of the construction of the wagons, but it is speculated that the wagons had two spaces, a higher one for performing on, and one underneath for the performers to change into costume.
A Norwich inventory from 1565 describes one such wagon as a house of wainscot painted and built on a cart with four wheels. A square top set over the house.
The Norwich Medieval Mystery Plays will take inspiration from gonfalons and the colourful pageant wagons that would have been used for the performances of these biblical plays. Work has begun by our seamstress to create backdrops and banners.
In 1210 Pope Innocent the Third issued an edict forbidding clergy from acting on a public stage. This had the effect of transferring the organisation of the dramas to the town guilds. The vernacular texts replaced the Latin, non biblical passages were added, and the characterisation became more elaborate. The plays could be presented with elaborate sets and 'special effects', but could also be stark and intimate. To capture the attention of the audience the plays were often noisy, and sometime quite bawdy.
Two formats of staging have been documented. One format was to present the performances on a decorated pageant cart that moved around the city to allow different crowds to watch each play, as well as providing actors with a dressing room and stage. The other format is often referred to as 'space and scaffold'. Scaffold and staging would be erected in a particular location, with the different heights of staging used to denote heaven and earth.
The Norwich Medieval Mystery Play is being presented in Norwich Castle Keep and we will be using staging and various scenic elements to fuse both pageant cart and space and scaffold formats.
The first image below depicts an English pageant wagon
Sharp - A Dissertation on the pageants (1825)
The second image shows a depiction of a mystery play in Metz during the middle ages in space and scaffold format.
Auguste Migette (1802-1884) from Metz Immediate (1850)
This week we met with artist and set builder Andrew Stevenson, to go over drawings of scenic elements that he will be working on.
There is an interesting correlation to the trades of the medieval town guilds who would have met and discussed similar plans, budgets and timescales, leading up to their performances.
Editor Joanna Dutka writes (1984)...
Until the re-cataloguing at the Norfolk Record Office of the papers of the eighteenth century antiquarian John Kirkpatrick revealed a transcript of the Norwich Grocers' play of the Fall of Man in both its early (about 1533) and late (1565) forms, the only versions known were those printed by Robert Fitch in 1859 and Osborn Waterhouse in 1909. The importance of the Kirkpatrick transcript of the plays, differing in some respects from the previously- known texts and the earliest version of the only surviving cycle plays from Norwich, makes it worth printing here in facsimile.
Joanna Dutka, Records of Early English Drama Vol. 9, No 1. (1984) Toronto Press
Below images -
The first image is of a photocopy of John Kirkpatrick's transcript (first page). The original is at the Norfolk Record Office and available for the public to view.
The second and third images images are of a copy of the Robert Fitch manuscript. A copy of the manuscript is in the University of East Anglia library and can be viewed by the public.
The fourth image is of a plaque on the wall of the house John Kirkpatrick lived in on St. Andrew's Street in Norwich. The last two images are of the house itself.