It’s A Mystery!

Lichfield Arts and The Lichfield Mystery Plays

It isn’t often a strange man sidles up to me and wants a quiet word in my ear, so when Dave Simcox approached me I was curious to say the least. Imagine my disappointment when all he wanted to know was if I was interested in taking on one of the Lichfield Mystery Plays. The Mystery Cycle has been preformed every 3 years since 1994 and Lichfield Arts had never been involved. There had been talk of Lichfield Arts expanding what it does and covering more than just music and beer and this seemed to be the right opportunity to see if we could move into different sorts of performance art.

Having agreed to direct it didn’t take long to find a play. How appropriate that the main character in The Harrowing of Hell was a woman taverner. I knew immediately that for us Hell would have to be the worst pub in eternity.

The cast came together n dribs and drabs, some chivvied into roles by me, some drafted in from other groups and a few even volunteered and so Lichfield Arts Company of Players came into being. It’s no surprise that, after months of doing read through in Donegal House that we found rehearsal space in a pub.

Lichfield Lighthouse came through and provided the angels, talk about being cast against type, and the voices for Te Deum Laudamus. We were lucky in that we were able to call on the talents of Lynne to help with costumes and she brought in Leigh Anne who had done makeup and hair for drama before. By February , when people began to realise this was a real play, we were well on our way to knowing our lines.

Performing in the Mysteries is not like other performances. Although the two stages look similar the completely different settings of the Market Square and the Cathedral make it an ‘interesting’ and dare I say it ‘challenging’ . this year luck held and the rain didn’t start until the last performance Monday evening on the Market Square.

It was an idea that became a leap of faith. The idea was to showcase some of the talent we have within Lichfield Arts the leap of faith was thinking we could successfully put together a cast and crew and take part in what is one of the largest community , outdoor theatre events in Europe. Did we do well? I think we did, people laughed in the right places and applauded when we took a bow. I think the rest of the cast enjoyed doing it, I know I did.

What happens now? Will Lichfield Arts Company of Players make a return. Suggestions have already been put forth that we should do something at Fuse. There have been a couple of ideas kicked about. There is also a rumour of a play of some sort at Christmas, something short, rowdy and rather rude. Who knows? The first order of business would be to come up with a better name than LACOP. I like Bob.

Jo Woodward

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