Reading of the Banns gives approval to 2013 Chester Mystery Plays

PUBLISHED: 16:15 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 16:15 16 May 2013

Douglas Cashin, as a shepherd, parades up Eastgate Street.

Douglas Cashin, as a shepherd, parades up Eastgate Street.

Neil Kendall

Actors from the Chester Mystery Plays have been given permission to perform at Chester Cathedral this summer, in a medieval ceremony known as the Reading of the Banns.

The shepherds dance in Chester Town Hall SquareThe shepherds dance in Chester Town Hall Square

Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Pam Booher, granted leave to shepherds from the company to present the 2013 production of the five-yearly spectacle in June and July.

Shepherds request permission to perform their medieval plays from the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Pam BooherShepherds request permission to perform their medieval plays from the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Pam Booher

Speaking from Chester Town Hall steps at noon, Cllr Booher approved the performance in a ceremony which dates back to the 14th century.

Chester Mystery Plays composer and musical director Matt Baker accompanies the actors on his accordionChester Mystery Plays composer and musical director Matt Baker accompanies the actors on his accordion

The actors playing shepherds and sheep began their procession at the Eastgate clock, accompanied by a band of musicians. Singing bawdy songs from the plays, they made their way past Chester Cross and up Northgate Street to Town Hall Square where they danced. Shepherds, played by Douglas Cashin and Paul Williams, then requested permission from the Lord Mayor to perform the Bible stories.

The Chester Mystery Plays are performed once every five years. Written in the 14th century by Benedictine monks of the Abbey of St Werburgh (now Chester Cathedral), the plays tell stories from the Creation to the Last Judgment with a special Chester twist.

Chairman of Chester Mystery Plays Jo Sykes with Lord Mayor of Chester Cllr Pam BooherChairman of Chester Mystery Plays Jo Sykes with Lord Mayor of Chester Cllr Pam Booher

They were originally performed by the Freemen and Guildsmen in the city streets but for the first time ever this year, they will be presented in the nave of Chester’s historic cathedral.

Shepherds and sheep from the Chester Mystery Plays company celebrate their success in securing permission to perform.Shepherds and sheep from the Chester Mystery Plays company celebrate their success in securing permission to perform.

The 2013 production is directed by the award-winning theatre director and radio drama producer Peter Leslie Wild with original music by Matt Baker.

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