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Archbishop of York Boards Noah’s Ark

Archbishop boards Noah's Ark. Ferdinand Kingsley (Jesus) and Archbishop

Thursday 19th July 2012

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, boarded Noah’s Ark on the huge stage of York Mystery Plays 2012 on Thursday (July 19). The Archbishop, who is a patron of the plays, gave people their first look at the spectacular setting for the plays, a Noah’s Ark, which has been made by students at York College.

The York Mystery Plays will be the biggest outdoor theatre production in the UK this year and take place in Museum Gardens from August 2 to August 27, with covered seating for 1,400 people especially built around the ancient walls of St Mary’s Abbey. The 357 square metre stage and 1,400 seats have now finished being assembled so the first dress rehearsals can begin to take place. It is hoped more than 36,000 people will come and see the plays throughout the month of August.

Dr John Sentamu said: “This Ark is a fantastic construction and a fantabulous setting.  Well done to the students and their tutors at York College for their hard work and for responding to the brief to build it, just like Noah!   My prayer is that as the cast prepare to tell the story of God’s majesty, that those floods of people coming along may know their own story to be part of God’s story and that they too will be encouraged in faith and in hope.”   York College have been part of the community aspect of the plays, with the production making it onto the syllabus in a number of areas. For example, joinery students and tutors have been busy constructing Noah's ark.


Phil Mountain, joinery technician at York College said: "The College was given a brief which stated that the eleven pieces that make up the ark needed to slot together easily, they also had to be durable to withstand the rehearsal period and the month-long run of the Mystery Plays.  There are many angles used in the making of the different pieces and we had to get them just right. This has been an interesting and high profile project to work on. The abstract design works very well and the ark will have a great impact on the stage. The project has provided an excellent learning experience for our students and tutors and everyone is pleased to have been involved in such a prestigious theatrical event in York."

Ferdinand Kingsley, 24, who has performed in productions for The National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, will play God and Jesus in the plays. Graeme Hawley, 37, who was nominated for Villain of the Year in the 2009 and 2011 British Soap Awards for his role as John Stape in Coronation Street, will play the Devil.

The new adaptation is written by the Olivier award winning Mike Kenny, who also adapted York Theatre Royal and the National Railway Museum’s The Railway Children. Theyare being staged by York Theatre Royal, Riding Lights Theatre Company and York Museums Trust and supported by City of York Council and the Arts Council. HRH Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, Dame Judi Dench and BBC Look North’s Harry Gration are also this year’s patrons of the plays.


The plays have been told by the people of York for hundreds of years and are deeply embedded in the City’s cultural heritage.  For more information visit:


Tickets can be bought in person from the York Theatre Royal Box Office, by phoning on 01904 623568 or by going to the theatre website


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