Big Ideas For The Next Cycle

Who’s got some ideas for the next cycle of Mystery Plays?

We’ve yet to secure funding for the production of any more Mystery Plays, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get some ideas rolling on what we could do. With the fantastic Lincoln Mystery Plays coming to an end a month or so ago, we’re brimming with ideas and possibilities of what we’d do if we won funding tomorrow.

Arts funding at this time is notoriously hard to come by, combined with the fact that Political support for projects has moved away from Religious works to more Secular pieces. Still, there’s no reason that we can’t live in hope and continue to apply for funding. In the mean time, thinking costs nothing and there’s nothing more exciting than making a wildly extravagant plan with absolutely no hope of it reaching fruition.

After a brief brainstorming session with the rest of the gang, I’ve collected 4 of the best/wackiest ideas of how we could bring back the Durham Mystery Cycles bigger and better than ever:

More People

Something that all the best Biblical Epics of the golden age of cinema had in common was an unbelievably huge amount of extras. Although we’ve done well in the past to get as many people together as we have, it would be great to attract even more to join the show.


Filling out our cast with a wider array of demographics should help lend more credibility to our production. Imagine double the amount of people crowding the stage with a huge variety in ages, race and gender. To bring more people into our production would be the easiest, cheapest way to raise the production values of our show.

Historically Accurate Attire

Along with more people, we’d also need to invest in more costumes. Of course, if we do somehow secure funding, we’d want to reuse the costumes we used in the last cycle. However, in an ideal world, we would be able to dress our significantly larger cast in a completely new wardrobe.


A brand new production would require new costumes, and it would be fantastic to be able to invest in traditional, historically accurate costume. To provide the people of Durham with a truly authentic Mystery Play experience would be wonderful, and not something our audience would forget in a hurry.


Although there are strict rules in place when it comes to the use of animals in entertainment situations (just take a look at the difficulty that the makers of the new Harry Potter play ran into recently) there’s no reason why we can’t shoot for the stars by enlisting some furry friends to help us set the scene.


The old adage goes, ‘never work with animals or children’. Well we’ve managed to handle dozens of children in a live theatrical setting before, why not go one step further and get some lives in mix? A donkey to ride our Jesus through the gates of Jerusalem, sheep to tend to our manger in the nativity scene – perhaps even a live snake for the Fall of Man?

Ice Sculptures

This is a much more off the wall idea, suggested by one of our more enthusiastic volunteers. The idea of one mystery play being represented as an intensely detailed ice sculpture is one that we can’t stop thinking about. Of course there would be an inherent challenge in presenting a piece of theatre as a tableau, but this could be easily stepped around.


Many of the stories in the York Cycles of plays draw from incredibly iconic moments in the Bible. The Creation of Man, Building of the Ark and Sacrifice of Cain and Able are all stories that could be told within a single frame. As to who would create such a thing, a colleague has been raving about Glacial Art’s ice sculptures for months now, it might be worth giving them a call.

There’s still no word on whether we’ll be able to go ahead with another set of plays, but for now these ideas are more than enough to keep us excited.