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York Mystery Plays 2012: Paul Osborne

Posted on 15 November 2012 | Audio, Narrative

I’m Paul Osborne and I’m playing Noah.

I’ve been involved in the theatre scene in York for years; directing and acting in productions, and I was just very excited by the idea of a huge project like this that involves the community. It’s got a real historic tradition in York, the Mystery Plays that’s always been produced by local people, untrained actors, and lots of people mucking in to build sets, the wagons and the costumes, and now of course all the publicity and music and sound.

It’s just very exciting to be part of something really big, that isn’t full of sponsorship and razzmatazz, like the Olympic Torch going through this year! This is a real local project, by local people, with a real story to tell. The York Mystery Plays are probably the best known and best preserved of all the mystery play cycles, and the writing in the mystery plays in York is probably the best medieval writing of its time, by the York Realist, the guy who wrote all of the plays.

I think the York plays are as well established as any and the ones that are most often performed. I have some professional training as an actor and I know a few other people in the cast have as well, but there are lots of people who don’t, but there are a lot of people who are involved in amateur and semi-professional acting productions in the city.

What I think is good about this production is that it is treated as a proper professional show in terms of the commitment that people are asked to give; the rehearsal process, it’s all done on a really professional basis and I think you learn from that. You’re always learning whether you’re trained or not and you learn from each other – and as you know from a lot of popular films, often the best performances are from people who are untrained so I don’t think it’s an issue. And you certainly couldn’t produce a production like this with a professional company because it would just cost way too much.

I’ve lived in York for about fifteen years. I think a lot of people who live here and have lived in other cities, remark how much interest in the arts in general there is from a place like York, in terms of music, song, theatre. There’s not only a lot of people doing it but there’s an audience for it, so I think it’s a big part of York’s cultural scene that people get involved in the arts; there’s a thriving theatre here, you can go out to concerts most nights of the week if you want to or choirs.