Guilds of York to roll out York Mystery Plays wagons on city streets on June 19 and 26

2022 York Mystery Plays artistic director Tom Straszewski

HERE come the wagons, rolling through York’s streets on June 19 and 26 for the 2022 York Mystery Plays.

Once more, the driving force behind the community production will be the Guilds of York, maintaining the four-yearly wagon-play cycle they set in motion in 1998 and last implemented in 2018.

Under the artistic direction of Tom Straszewski, the Mystery Plays will be presented on decorated pageant wagons, in keeping with the medieval custom. Pushed by York residents, these will move through the streets to the accompaniment of musicians.

Straszewski’s production will involve nearly 600 people in all, who will create hours of drama, performed for free. Eight wagons will process through the city centre to stage their chosen plays at four locations, including St Sampson’s Square, St Helen’s Square and King’s Manor.

Roger Lee, chairman of York Festival Trust, says: “With arts and culture being amongst the last areas of our lives allowed to return post-Covid, we are delighted to bring York Mystery Plays back to the city this summer and support the rebirth of live performing arts.

James Swanton as Lucifer with cast members of The Last Judgement when plays from the 2018 York Mystery Plays were staged in the Shambles Market. Picture: Lewis Outing

“Our past productions have met with great popular, academic and critical acclaim, and we hope to build on this success with our 2022 production. In their medieval heyday, the Mystery Plays and the Guilds were inextricably linked, and it is this heritage we are reclaiming with these regular four-yearly productions.

Artistic director Tom Straszewski will work with various partners across York to make the Mystery Plays, their story, themes and message accessible to as many people as possible. “After two years of uncertainty for the arts, this is an opportunity for York’s communities to come together to celebrate our city’s heritage through drama, spectacle and pageantry,” he says.

“This will be a huge boost for people’s well-being and a festival to attract York residents and visitors alike to the city on these two Sundays.”

In the era of pandemic lockdowns and climate change, the theme for 2022’s selection of eight plays will be sustainability and transformation. “The plays will cover the creation of the world, floods, last meals together and resurrections. We are still seeking directors, performance groups and actors to take on these plays, including the iconic Crucifixion with the Butchers’ Gild,” says Tom, who was the artistic director and pageant master for the 2018 Mystery Plays too.

“There are still opportunities to be involved and anyone interested should email”