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York Cycles Psychedelic

The Berea College Theater Laboratory presented its final production of the year with a blast from the past, The York Cycle Plays.

Psychedelic Actors

Flower power, peace, and love were the themes of the set. Colorful costumes, a brightly painted stage and a comprehensive soundtrack from the 60's and 70's exploded on stage, not to mention the fog, strobe lighting, and gun shots.

Brandie Wagers, a freshman theater major, stole the show with her rose colored glasses, purple bell-bottoms, and floppy sun hat. in the role of God, the "director."

Other actors costumes were embellished with flashing lights, neon colored satin, bare feet, and the trademark bandannas.

The York Plays are a series of medieval dramatized stories from both the Old and New Testaments. The Theatre Laboratory has selected eleven of the forty-eight existing stories. Those include, among others, the creation of the world, Noah and the Ark, Cain and Able, and Moses and the Pharaoh – stories from the Old Testament.

The York Plays are so named because the series of forty-eight plays were performed in York from approximately 1350 to 1550 AD. Only four cycle dramas are known to exist, however, the author, or authors, are unknown. According to Oscar Brockett’s History of the Theatre, “While the length and scope of the dramas varied widely, they all dealt with the same basic subject matter: God’s ordering of existence revealed in the Bible.” The plays were originally staged on pageant wagons and paraded through the town, stopping at specific locations.

Director Deborah Martin has updated the presentation of the stories by placing them between the years of 1968 and 1972, during the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration. Why offer these plays in this way? “Because the stories speak universally of truth, integrity and love of your fellow man,” says Martin. “We located a modern translation, but have not altered the stories, other than the time period in which they are being presented. The music, culture, and political events of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s offer some rich ground where these stories can breathe new life for a contemporary audience.”

Deborah Martin was a major contributor to this article.

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