The Wakefield Mysteries

Getting to the heart of the Mysteries: Uncovering the philosophical questions that persist for Wakefield’s young people

The Wakefield Mysteries are a cycle of medieval mystery dramas, comprising 32 religious pageants in English verse and dramatising key Biblical stories from The Creation, to The Last Judgement. The author of the plays is unknown and they were probably written by a number of people and then added to and rewritten over time.

The Wakefield Theatre Royal have secured funding from Arts Council England to support this research and development project ahead of a new production scheduled for 2015. Grace and Sophie from Thinking Space worked with the Theatre Royal at the beginning of this exciting project to facilitate a series of workshops for young people and theatre professionals. We wanted to find out whether medieval religious plays can intrigue a 21st century audience of young people of various religions and none.

Our approach was to uncover the ambiguous, humorous and controversial content of the plays and use this as a basis for six questions that will underpin each of the performances.

Is the Law just?
Can you ever really trust someone?
How far would you go in war?
Does God exist?
Are other people’s lives as important as our own?
Should faith be tested?

Regional arts organisations will now take each of these questions and – working with Wakefield’s young people – they’ll devise new ways to retell the Mysteries in response to philosophical questions that are still alive in the works today.

Skint and Demoralised
Invisible Flock
Mad Dogs Dance Theatre
The Demon Barbers
National Youth Theatre

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