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Pioneering Theatre, Music and Community Arts

 In Wolverhampton from 1980 to 2013


1982 - 2013

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The Wolverhampton Mystery Cycle - Design

Being part of the Community

Designing for the Mystery Cycle was a lengthy process involving input from all creative areas within the company.

Set, props, costumes are an integral part of the production creating the visual dynamic of the show.

The tree, 15 metres high, scaffolded so that God and the Angels could work 45 feet above the audience, was the focal point for the show at the Civic Hall in 2001. It was an impressive piece scenically as well as proportionally.

At the Grand Theatre in 2004, we used the "Tree of Life" motif again, but this time, the tree was a gauze which included the face of God.

Chris Dainty painted the design for this and used an image of Lesley Beaumont's face (she played God).

There are moments within the production where the action takes place in front of, within and from behind the tree, therefore it had to have a certain amount of versatility.

The animals were the fun pieces to do. The designs began as one thing, then as they were crafted there were adjustments made that culminated in the finished pieces.

We made large scale animals, puppets, masks - two of each! - all of which were assembled by hand in our workshop by makers and volunteers to great effect.

Our prop makers made most of the props used.

Amos Edwards as Pharoah

Items such as the large hand held fans in the Pharaoh scenes were made from scratch following the design drawings.

The odd goblet here and there we were able to produce from our own stores. Throws and cushions used as scenic props were run up in our Wardrobe department alongside the specialist costumes being made.

There was a basic costume designed for the majority of the cast. The look we were after was not classically period or modern.

Striking a balance between the two to give a muted but uniform effect was our main aim.

A clothing manufacturer was brought in to make the basics for over a hundred cast members but certain characters were designed separately: Jesus, God, Herod Antipas etc. to distinguish them from the crowd.

All these were made in house, some in period, others more contemporary in appearance.

The overall look lent a rather bohemian feel to the play.

Ultimately the entire experience was a challenge.

From bird masks to full size elephants and from ancient Egypt to the Praetorian guard, the design team - including makers, carpenters and sewers - really pulled together to create a stunning piece of theatre that old and young alike thoroughly enjoyed.

Sharon Ryal, Mystery Cycle Designer

The Last Supper Sharon Ryal, Designer