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The Annunciation, Wakefield (Towneley) (2016)

History of the Players

What are your memories of the Players of St Peter? Olive Stubbs writes:

Currently, I am working on compiling a collection of views and anecdotes from audience and players alike – past and present – about what the Players mean to them, what makes the group and its work special, which church locations or aspects of the productions individuals have particularly liked, and any memorable incidents that people would like to record. My hope is that in the coming year this will build into an informal history of the Players over the decades.

The Players of St Peter was founded in 1946 at the church of St Peter-upon-Cornhill in the City of London - hence our name. Since those years in the City we have been based in churches in west and east London and since 2016 in north London.

Through all that time, we have been fortunate in maintaining very faithful audiences who have followed our progress and supported our productions, some handing on that support to their children and even grandchildren. Many remark that for them our plays are the true start of Christmas, which is a lovely thought.

During the 30 years since 1986, while I have been adapting and directing the plays, I have found it a great pleasure to work with so many talented people, to find the gems of truth, humour and language in the texts, and get to know many of our keen supporters and patrons. The Players and our traditional performances are indeed special in many ways.

So, if you would like to hear more about this project – or to contribute some of your own thoughts or memories (however long or short) about the Players from your point of view – please contact me by email to players1946@gmail.com – it will be a pleasure to hear from you.

Welcome to the Players of St Peter

Sadly, like so many other events in 2020, our usual production of scenes from the Mystery Plays at Christmas fell victim to Covid-19. But be assured that we are thinking of you – and we hope you will be thinking of us and looking forward to joining us when circumstances permit.
 
Meanwhile, we have put together two reminders of our traditional presentations, and we cordially invite you to share some time with us by watching them. The first has been prepared for Feb 02 which is Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
A few of the Players reading part of the Presentation of the Infant in the Temple from the Weavers’ Pageant of the Coventry Corpus Christi Pageants. Performance credits are at the end of the video. Instead of subtitles you can read the script (lines 585-694) in a parallel window.
 
The whole Pageant is based on St Luke, Chapter 2, Verse 22 to end. After the presentation of the infant Jesus, Luke does a fast forward twelve years and describes Jesus confounding the doctors (of religious law) in the Temple with his knowledge. The Weavers Pageant does exactly the same.
Part of the Player’s 2018 production: The Wryghtes and Sklaters Plaie of The Salutation and Nativity (just the Nativity part) from the Chester Cycle. Cast and Crew. Instead of subtitles you can read the script (lines 330-438) in a parallel window.
 
This extract is based on the non-canonical Gospel of James and includes the incident where the midwife Salome says “As the Lord my God lives, unless I insert my finger and investigate her, I will not believe that a virgin has given birth”. The result: “Woe for my lawlessness and the unbelief that made me test the living God. Look, my hand is falling away from me and being consumed in fire”.
Obviously the cast, director, our musicians and all connected with the Players are very disappointed not to be able to perform ‘in person’ this year. But rest assured that as soon as we are able to mount a worthwhile new production, in whatever form, we will let you know. We look forward to welcoming you again to our home at St Saviour, Chalk Farm, before long.

We are an amateur-drama group founded in 1946 and specialising in medieval drama, specifically the cycles of mystery plays based on stories from the Bible. These were performed annually by the trade guilds at the midsummer festival of Corpus Christi until they fell into disfavour, casualties of the Reformation some 500 years ago.

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The Annunciation, Wakefield (Towneley) (2016)

History of the Players

What are your memories of the Players of St Peter? Olive Stubbs writes:

Currently, I am working on compiling a collection of views and anecdotes from audience and players alike – past and present – about what the Players mean to them, what makes the group and its work special, which church locations or aspects of the productions individuals have particularly liked, and any memorable incidents that people would like to record. My hope is that in the coming year this will build into an informal history of the Players over the decades.

The Players of St Peter was founded in 1946 at the church of St Peter-upon-Cornhill in the City of London - hence our name. Since those years in the City we have been based in churches in west and east London and since 2016 in north London.

Through all that time, we have been fortunate in maintaining very faithful audiences who have followed our progress and supported our productions, some handing on that support to their children and even grandchildren. Many remark that for them our plays are the true start of Christmas, which is a lovely thought.

During the 30 years since 1986, while I have been adapting and directing the plays, I have found it a great pleasure to work with so many talented people, to find the gems of truth, humour and language in the texts, and get to know many of our keen supporters and patrons. The Players and our traditional performances are indeed special in many ways.

So, if you would like to hear more about this project – or to contribute some of your own thoughts or memories (however long or short) about the Players from your point of view – please contact me by email to players1946@gmail.com – it will be a pleasure to hear from you.

Only four texts survive substantially intact, plus fragments from other cycles, and it is from those four – Wakefield, York, Chester and Corpus Christi (n-Town) – that we draw the bulk of our material, presenting a selection from each in turn, year by year. Every fifth year the production, dubbed The Director's Choice, gives the director licence to mix-and-match the plays, which gives us the opportunity to perform scenes from the fragmentary cycles.

 

 
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