The Noah Project
Charles Hunt, Director
Various Locations in York
About the Show
In 2012, as an adjunct event to the major St Mary’s Abbey revival of the Mystery Plays, HIDden co-produced The Noah Project with the York Festival Trust, with director Charles Hunt at the helm. Resurrected from the Fishers and Mariners Guild of the medieval city, the play was performed by the western door of the Minster and before St William’s College.
In a script derived from the York and Chester mystery play cycles, The Noah Project tells the familiar story of Noah, whom God asks to build a massive ark. On it, Noah, his family, and pairs of animals will be saved from the flood which God plans to send to clear the world of its sinful inhabitants, that his creation may begin anew. Noah’s sons and their wives are eager to aid in this task, but Noah’s wife, caught up with her chores and visiting with her “gossips”, is reluctant to leave dry land and set sail. Finally persuaded, she and her family witness the destruction of the world they have known, and wait through forty days and nights until a bird sent from the ark in search of land returns with an olive branch. This, and the appearance of the rainbow, are God’s signs that life will continue and that he will never again take such radical action to correct mankind.
The Noah play has long been a favourite for waggon productions: it was performed in 1954 as an extra event to that year’s mainstage production, and has appeared on the streets of York in many subsequent years. Not only is it one of the best known Biblical tales, with its familiar imagery of the animals, ark, and rainbow, but it’s also one of the most broadly comical. The marital spats between Noah and his wife are some of the funniest material mystery plays have to offer: though we tend to think of it as a story told to children, this is a play with humour for the adults, as well.
Among the special features of this particular production were the beautifully crafted ark, based on a medieval German woodcut, and the use of live birds: several doves, and Her Majesty the Queen’s raven, Gabriel, formerly of the tower of London and on loan from Knaresborough Castle.
For more information please visit The Noah Project on Facebook.
Special thanks for the kind use of Her Majesty the Queen’s raven, Knaresborough Castle.