Summer School 2012 Photos

Long before the stresses of line learning or a lack of sleep sets it, we like to capture a photo of our wonderful Summer Theatre School staff and participants while they’re still fresh faced and full of energy. Don’t they look lovely…

This group photo, along with production shots from each course’s performance, are available from photobox.

Any queries or problems ordering prints you can drop us an email on

York Mystery Plays on BBC Look North

TONGIHT! (that’s the 22nd June) don’t miss the chance to see God and the Devil together, in a TV studio.

This afternoon we received fantastic news that both Ferdinand Kingsley  (playing God/Jesus) and Graeme Hawley (The Devil) will both be on BBC Look North this evening at 6.30pm.

For those of you in Yorkshire, you can watch this on BBC One. If you’re further-a-field, you can watch on the BBC’s website.  Do watch it if you can.

Audience feedback for Monsieur de Coubertin…

We’re now over half-way through the tour and it’s fantastic to see how much audiences are enjoying Monsieur de Coubertin’s Magnificient Opymlic© Feat!

At our Bristol performance we recorded a couple of vox pops. Take a look:

We’ve also had a couple of fantastic comments emailed back to us:

“I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the performance of Monsieur de Coubertin’s Magnificent Opymlic© Feat last week. My husband enjoyed it very much too.

The humour, impeccable timing, the historic detail so interestingly and memorably presented, the zipping and unzipping set, the velcro on the props! It was all so imaginative!

I learned so much which I did not know before and the equality and justice message was very movingly portrayed.”

Audience Member, Worcester Park

“What a great story so well acted , fast moving and faultless”

Audience Member, Weymouth

Monsiuer de Coubertin’s Magnificent Opymlic© Feat is touring the UK until the 16th June. You can find a full list of dates here.

Roughshod 2013 – Applications Open

Applications are now open for our 2013 Roughshod company.

The first round of auditions will be held on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th June 2012 at Friargate Theatre in York. The date for the second round is yet to be confirmed.

You can find out more, and apply online here.

Riding Lights Roughshod companies are well known from their touring work throughout the UK since 1992, visiting local communities (schools, churches, prisons, colleges, arts centres etc) with a dynamic repertoire of story-telling/revue performances, education projects, theatre workshops and plays – ‘theatre with a spiritual heart’ which reflects the Christian ethos of the company.

Wanted: Youth Theatre and Education Assistants for 2012-13

Riding Lights Theatre Company is seeking volunteer Youth Theatre and Education Assistants for 2012-13. There are three periods available for this opportunity:

  • September to December 2012
  • January to April 2013
  • April to July 2013

We would be very happy to hear from people who would be interested in volunteering for one or more of these periods.

This is an ideal opportunity for anyone who is interested in working with young people in the theatre! It will involve acting as an Assistant to the Youth Theatre Director, and will offer experience in areas such as Youth Theatre rehearsals, workshop facilitating, stage management and administration.

We’ve had volunteer Youth Theatre Assistants for a number of years here at Friargate, and we love having them around. We asked Hannah Goudie, one of  2011 volunteers to tells us how she found the experience:

“Working as an Education Assistant for Riding Lights was a great opportunity. I really enjoyed the variety of the role, learning by actively being involved in the youth theatre sessions, as well as stage management, schools workshops and admin.

I particularly enjoyed the chance to work with a company that had Christianity at the centre and found the support of staff was fantastic.

The role offered great challenges to work with different ages and abilities in both youth theatre and school settings, which also provided a good range of experience for future work.”

The application process for this role will be subject to interview and an Enhanced CRB check.

For more information, please contact Jonty on 01904 655317, or send an email of enquiry to

A Magnificent Review!

With just under two weeks before Monsieur de Coubertin’s  Magnificent Opymlic© Feat! begins its tour, we’ve created a short video to give you a taster of the show.

In the video there are also a couple of quotes from the York Press review of the show. You can read the full article from which those quotes are taken, here.

Opymlic© Technical Assistant

Monsieur de Coubertin castA Fantastic Work Experience Opportunity With A Professional Theatre Company

We are currently looking for a volunteer to join our National Touring company (for Monsieur de Coubertin’s Magnificent Opymlic© Feat!…) to help with driving, get-ins/outs but also to participate in the performances.

This would particularly suit a young person with time on their hands for a couple of months and who needs some experience of a busy working environment. You need to be available without other commitments from 10th April until 16th June (there is a week off from 3rd to 10th June) and you need to be able to drive. Whilst there is no salary available for this voluntary position, you will be provided with accommodation and meals whilst on tour. A sense of humour and a willingness to work hard are essential!

For more information, contact Jonathan Brown ( or Rob Gooch ( on 01904 655317. This voluntary appointment will be made through an application and interview process.

York Mystery Plays Costume Collection Call

With a community cast of 600 actors, the York Mystery Plays 2012 is, by a long stretch, the largest production Riding Lights has ever been involved in.

As well as arranging a rehearsal schedule for such a large cast, one of the biggest challenges is finding costumes for that many people. Therefore the Mystery Plays’ design team have put out a call for costume donations.

The setting the team have chosen for the plays matches the era when they were first revived – the Festival of Britain in the 1950s. So specifically we’re looking for donations of any original clothing ranging from First World War uniforms to 1950s dresses and anything in-between. (Take a look at the photo on the right to see some of the Mystery Play team modelling example costumes).

Not an era you automatically associate with the Mystery Plays,  Paul Burbridge (co-director for the production) explained the rational behind the 20th century costuming: “This year we’re looking for a way to make the plays have a contemporary feel. The idea of the city of York telling the story now. Without the plays being absolutely up to date. The era in which the plays are being styled, will engender a sense of austerity and hope that was present in post-war Britain”.

Can you help?

Donations will make an enormous difference to the project.

Anna Gooch, Costume designer said: “Even if items are in need of repair or are stained, we’re interested! The eras of rationing and making-do and mending are particularly interesting to us. Men’s suits, women’s tea dresses, hats, gloves, handbags. Army, Navy, RAF uniforms… think Dad’s Army, Vera Drake or The Bicycle Thieves. If you’re not sure if it’s right – bring it along anyway!”

Clothes can be dropped off on the 3rd of March at York Theatre Royal as well as other theatres across the region including; The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond; Harrogate Theatre, Harrogate; Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough and the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

Joining us for Members Day?

If you have any costumes you’d like to donate, then you can always bring them along to Members Day on the 25th February and drop them off at Friargate Theatre then. (More info on members day here…)


A partnership comprising Riding Lights Theatre Company, York Theatre Royal and York Museums Trust, working together with the City of York Council are delighted to confirm that the York Mystery Plays will be returning to the York Museum Gardens in August 2012.

In the fourteenth century from sunrise to sunset on Corpus Christi day, the Mystery Plays traveled through the streets of York on wagons, stopping to perform to gathered audiences at various ‘stations’. The plays were revived in 1951 as part of the Festival of Britain when, for the first time, they were performed in the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey in the Museum Gardens. The plays continued to be performed every four years in the Gardens until 1988 after which the Plays moved to York Theatre Royal. The last full-scale production was the acclaimed Millennium Mystery Plays in 2000 at York Minster which was performed to more than 28,000 people.

The vision of the joint Artistic Directors for the 2012 production, Paul Burbridge (Riding Lights) and Damian Cruden (York Theatre Royal) is for a Community Festival throughout the city, with the centrepiece being the return of the Mystery Plays to the Museum Gardens. In a joint statement, Damian Cruden and Paul Burbridge said: “Our vision is to create a bold, exhilarating piece of story-telling theatre on an operatic scale. To re-invigorate the tradition and the language and make these plays accessible to a modern audience. We want to stage the Mystery Plays in a way that resonates with both past and present and appeals to those of religious faith or none. Above all, to bring an extraordinary and passionate performance out of our community, resourced with the highest aesthetic and production values. We want to remind everyone that the ownership of this remarkable tradition rests with the people of York.”

Liz Wilson, Chief Executive of York Theatre Royal said: “The staging of the York Mystery Plays in 2012 in the Museum Gardens will be an incredible spectacle. The Plays have a worldwide reputation as well as a huge York following. We hope to start working with the people of York from today on an event of which we will all be proud.”

Cllr Andrew Waller, Leader, City of York Council said: “The Mystery Plays are a huge draw to the city, and help residents and visitors alike to celebrate our heritage. The year 2012 will mark 800 years since the city gained its Charter and so is a special year. As someone who has been involved with three sets of Mystery Plays on wagons I hope that many York residents will get involved in the plays in Museum Gardens and help us celebrate in style”.

Using the colourful language of medieval Yorkshire, a small number of high-profile actors will join with a large cast of community performers of all ages and backgrounds drawn from across York. Previous famous faces which have appeared in the plays include Dame Judi Dench performing as the Virgin Mary in 1957, Christopher Timothy in 1980 and Robson Green performing as Jesus in 1992. The partnership will be working with community participants from across York on the creation and presentation of the Plays, with many opportunities for people to take part both on stage and behind the scenes. A Community Producer is being appointed to build links with community groups in and around York to ensure that as many residents as possible are involved in the production.

In the journey to 2012 York Theatre Royal and Riding Lights Theatre Company will collaborate to produce Anthony Minghella’s Two Planks and a Passion, on the York Theatre Royal stage in Summer 2011. Set in the shadow of York Minster, the play hilariously recounts the citizens of York staging a medieval production of the Mystery Plays. There will also be opportunities for York residents to take part in this production at the Theatre Royal.

Ruth Ford, who first took part in the Mystery Plays in 1973 said: “I have been involved with the Mystery Plays since I moved to York when my husband was posted to the city to take command of the Yorkshire Volunteers. I had the privilege of playing God in 1996 and 2006. The Plays are a wonderful opportunity for the people of York to get together and they embody the spirit of Christianity”.

The rolling programme of community festival events, especially those held in August 2012, will allow visitors to enjoy a full day out in York whilst benefiting businesses, associations and educational groups from within the York community through collaboration to create this memorable cultural landmark.

Janet Barnes, chief executive of York Museums Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with York Theatre Royal and Riding Lights Theatre Company to welcome back the Mystery Plays into the Museums Gardens. The ruins of St Mary’s Abbey are the perfect setting for the plays and, with more than a thousand people being able to watch each performance under covered seating, there will be a fantastic atmosphere in the Gardens. It is more than 20 years since they were shown here and I am sure it will be one of the highlights of 2012”.

To register your interest in the York Mystery Plays and find out the latest information visit

Urgent: Education Assistant needed


Riding Lights Education Assistant

Would you like to volunteer and become a vital part of the Riding Lights team?

Enthusiastic, hard working? Looking for something to do in your Gap Year?

Riding Lights needs a new Education Assistant. This voluntary post  includes the chance to work with our youth theatres, teach drama in local schools, help run workshops, learn stage management skills and help with the day to day administration of Riding Lights.

This is a 5 – day a week, voluntary position which can last for 1, 2 or 3 academic terms (up to a year).

Find out more about this challenge by sending your CV for the attention of Sally Maddison at Riding Lights Theatre Company, Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate, York YO1 9SL or phone on 01904 655317 for more information. Or email