The BYU-I Theatre Department started its Christmas festivities with “A Medieval Christmas Pageant: Plays from the York Cycle” from Nov. 29 to Dec. 9 in the Black Box Theatre.

The student-managed production includes these six plays from the York Mystery Plays, also known as York Corpus Cristi Plays: The Annunciation to Mary and the Visitation, Joseph’s Troubles about Mary, The Nativity, The Offering of the Shepherds, Herod Questioning the Three Kings and the Offering of the Magi and The Purification of the Virgin.

Joseph's troubles about Mary

Joseph is troubled about Mary. Photo credit: Adam Sheffield

Created in the middle of the 14th century, the York Mystery Plays include depictions of 48 stories throughout the bible. The series of plays begins with The Creation of the Angels and the Fall of Lucifer and concludes with Doomsday.

Because the plays were written so long ago, the Theatre Department adjusted a few things to modernize the production.

“Somebody in our department had to translate the words so that you could actually understand them because the original words were not really legible,” said Ashleigh Brown, the Stage Manager of the production. “The directors and designers wanted to focus on keeping the medieval language but making the costume and technology modern.”

The Angel Gabriel brings good tidings to Mary.

The Angel Gabriel brings good tidings to Mary. Photo credit: Adam Sheffield

The original plays would have been performed on wagons as the actors toured from city to city, so the audience would have seen the actors changing costumes and preparing for each set. The Theatre Department mimicked this by placing trunks on stage where the actors would get their costumes before they took the stage.

The Christmas pageant focused on the events surrounding the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ to welcome the Christmas season.

You can see the actors preparing for the next scene on the right side of the stage

You can see the actors preparing for the next scene on the right side of the stage Photo credit: Adam Sheffield

“The whole show is about the birth of Jesus Christ and the people around him in those moments and just after them,” said Morgan Michael, a student studying Theatre Studies and played the donkey in the Christmas Pageant.

For other ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, visit the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ website.