Video: Norfolk villages revive medieval mystery play tradition

Actors perform the Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust Mystery Play Cycle.
Photo by Simon Finlay. Actors perform the Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust Mystery Play Cycle. Photo by Simon Finlay.

Sunday, June 8, 2014
8:37 PM

The medieval tradition of mystery plays has been entertaining a modern day crowd as a group of villages near Norwich revived the centuries-old custom.

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Actors perform the Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust Mystery Play Cycle.
Photo by Simon Finlay.Actors perform the Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust Mystery Play Cycle. Photo by Simon Finlay.

In days gone by members of medieval guilds would perform mystery play cycles to the masses, putting on shows of stories that were drawn from Biblical tales.

For the 21st century, Bergh Apton and 11 neighbouring villages and local schools worked together to create their own version of the Legend of the Rood, a tale that spans thousands of years and connects the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil with Christ’s crucifixion.

The villages presented the final performance of their four-show cycle in and around Bergh Apton on Sunday to a 200-strong audience who were led from stage to stage by a group of musicians.

Benjamin Turner, from Alpington, and who played Jesus in the final play, said: “It was brilliant, absolutely fantastic.

Actors perform the Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust Mystery Play Cycle.
Photo by Simon Finlay.Actors perform the Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust Mystery Play Cycle. Photo by Simon Finlay.

“It was just a really great community event with a wonderful atmosphere. The audience was really good and joined in with everything.

“There were actors from 12 different villages and it was great how everyone has worked together on the project. A lot of new friends have been made and we are already talking about what to do next.”

At the helm of the project was community drama director David Farmer as well as storyteller Hugh Lupton who wrote and narrated the four plays that were performed by a cast of about 50 actors and a group of musicians.

The villages taking part in the mystery play cycle, which was also performed on May 24 and June 1, were Alpington and Yelverton, Ashby St Mary, Bergh Apton, Bramerton, Carleton St Peter, Claxton, Framingham Pigot, Hellington, Kirby Bedon, Rockland St Mary, Surlingham, and Thurton.

Actors perform the Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust Mystery Play Cycle.
Photo by Simon Finlay.Actors perform the Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust Mystery Play Cycle. Photo by Simon Finlay.

The Bergh Apton Community Arts Trust Mystery Play Cycle follows on from the success of host village Bergh Apton’s sculpture trails which have taken place since 1997.

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