The Chester Mystery Plays Diaries (pt 4)

The Chester Mystery Plays team has kindly agreed that one of its players, Paul Williams, can write a diary for this blog. Here’s the fourth installment.

Friday 31st May, Noah Rehearsal

It’s three weeks until the show opens and we’re really starting to feel the pressure. Not that this is a bad thing, indeed rehearsals are thundering along at a right old pace and bits of the play that previously lacked some extra zing are now coming together. The Noah play has had some cuts due to its length and these edits have really boosted the whole thing, taking out the superfluous and making it all look very slick. I was worried that my inane chanting as a Chester FC fan would have been removed from the play, but this has not been the case and I still get to charge towards a female shouting my head off. It all sounds rather horrible, but she enjoys it…..I think.

Saturday 1st June, Shepherds rehearsal, second half rehearsal

Today was the best we’ve ever done the last supper. I’m so happy about it. I even managed to remember my lines, which is some feat considering there’s only two of them. But then again I don’t suppose Judas felt very conversational during the last supper. The man playing Peter did once try to start an improvisational interlude by saying “where were you this afternoon?” I could hardly do the rest of the scene due to laughing so hard. So now I sit and look moody, waiting for the inevitable. The problem is I’ve been banned from looking at Jesus. This stems from the filming of the trailer where I kept making him laugh and now he can’t take my face seriously. It’s a curious sensation: having a face that can’t be taken seriously. I am reminded of an anecdote Groucho Marx used to tell about being unable to insult anybody as they would simply convulse with laughter. I certainly don’t want my tenure in the Mystery Plays to be a crash course in how to betray a man whilst making him chuckle. Perhaps I need to start carrying round a mirror so I can practice looking hard.

Sunday 2nd June, plays 10 & 11 rehearsal

The anti-christ play is still looking really strong and today was a great rehearsal. It’s nice to get all the kids involved in the last judgement. I’m surprised that they’re not really bothered about where they end up regarding heaven or hell. I thought most of them would be terrified of Lucifer, but no, they seem fine about the threat of eternal fire and damnation. I know it’s not real, but children do have rather fertile imaginations. I was only in for the afternoon session today, which was a blessing as it meant a much needed lie in. I suspect it will be my last one for a while.


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