Monday, December 18, 2006

Jesus on stage

Why, wonders Mark Ravenhill in The Guardian, are there so few good plays based on the life of Christ?
The absence of the story of Christ from the stage is not a new phenomenon. In medieval England we had the Mystery Plays, most famously in York and Coventry - epic Biblical cycles performed by amateurs on wagons passing through the city. But with the dissolution of the monasteries and the split from Rome, stagings of Biblical events became heretical. It wasn't until the 20th century that these plays were restaged, first by amateur groups, and then in a celebrated production by Bill Bryden at the National Theatre. The success of Bryden's production was in part due to his setting of the plays in a Northern working-class culture, just as it was under attack from the Thatcher government.

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