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York Minster Mystery Plays 2016 - Community cast confirmed

Thursday 24th December 2015

York Minster announced today the community actors who will play Mary and Joseph in next summer’s spectacular staging of the York Minster Mystery Plays.

More than 200 performers will take part in next year’s production after casting was confirmed this week. The community cast will include talented amateur performers from around the globe, as well as professionally trained actors and actresses returning to the stage after career breaks and rising stars of the future, fresh out of drama school.  
Around 50 children and young people will be part of the production, with the cast ranging in age from under-10s to over 80s and including siblings, parents and children and people who performed in the Minster’s 2000 production.
Letters have been sent to everyone who auditioned offering them parts in the Plays, which open on 26 May and run for five weeks. They have until 4 January 2016 to confirm.
“York has a wealth of talented community performers and it’s been great to meet so many of them over the last few weeks,” explained Director Phillip Breen.
 “The audition process has been one of the most beautiful and life affirming things I’ve been involved in for years and we’re excited to now be confirming parts and starting rehearsals in the New Year.”
In keeping with the Play’s rich heritage, the community cast will be at the heart of the production supporting just one professional actor, who will be announced in the New Year.
Ruby Barker and Mark Comer, both from York will play Mary and Joseph in the 2016 production.
Ruby Barker – Mary
Born in London on 23 December 1996, Ruby and her family moved to Glasgow when she was 8 years old before settling in York when Ruby was 15. She was a pupil at Tadcaster Grammar School completing her GCSE’s and A-level studies there. Ruby is coming to the end of her gap year which included a spell travelling in Bangladesh.  She has secured a place at the London School of Economics to study International Relations before pursuing her long term ambition – acting for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Commenting on winning the role of Mary, Ruby said:
“I’m really pleased and excited to have this amazing opportunity.  It is a terrific honour to be chosen to play Mary in a production that means so much to the City of York.”
Ruby’s previous performing experience includes a TV advertisement for the Royal Bank of Scotland at the age of 12.  Coincidentally this led to an invitation to visit the offices of The Tatler which happened to be her favourite magazine.  Impressed by Ruby’s performance in the advert, The Tatler invited her to spend a day at their offices to the see the magazine being produced.  
Mark Comer - Joseph
Born in Lancashire, Mark Comer has lived in York since 1971.  A graphic designer by profession, Mark has been involved in productions of the York Mystery Plays and the York Wagon Plays for many years both as an actor, a set designer and as a stage builder.  His roles in local productions of the plays have included Noah, Jesus (1994 Wagon Plays), Beelzebub (2014 Wagon Plays) and Zacchaeus twice including the Millennium Production of the Mystery Plays at York Minster in 2000. 
The Mystery Plays are an important tradition at St Luke’s Church, York, where Mark and his family are regular worshippers.  Mark’s brother-in-law has directed previous productions in the city and his nephew will also appear in the Minster’s production.
Commenting on his role as Joseph, Mark said:
“I’m delighted, a little bit daunted but also very excited to have landed such an important part in what will be an amazing production. These plays are deeply embedded in the culture, history and traditions of York and the wider region and I have come to appreciate how special they are. 
“I am really looking forward to performing in York Minster once more.  I have always considered the Minster to be not only one of the most architecturally beautiful buildings in the country but also one of the most spiritual too.”
York Minster’s 2016 production of the famous Plays will be the biggest event the cathedral has ever hosted, with its Nave transformed into a 1000-seater auditorium for the performances.
It’s the first time in 16 years and only the second time in their near 700 year history that the Minster has hosted the Plays and the production promises to be a fantastic spectacle in a unique setting.
Tickets for the performances go on sale at 9.30am on Wednesday 13 January.
For further details, visit
Notes to editors:

  • Ruby Barker and Mark Comer, who will play Mary and Joseph in the York Minster Mystery Plays 2016, will be at York Minster and available for photographs and interviews on Wednesday 23 December in York Minster’s Nave from 9.15 – 10.00 am. Please report to the main entrance (groups desk) at the West End of the Minster by 9.10am.
  • Photographers and journalists wishing to attend should contact:

Sharon Atkinson – Director of Communications – t: 01904 557248 m: 07785 615457

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