The Wakefield Cycle is one of four complete or nearly complete cycles of English mystery plays that still exist today. Mystery plays are short dramas that each tell one important Bible story or episode, and a full Cycle takes the audience from the Creation of the World through the birth and crucifixion of Christ to the Last Judgment. The mystery plays were vital to the Catholic Church for transmitting its values and beliefs to an audience that in most cases could not (and was not allowed to) read the Bible. They were wildly popular in period, when one to three days might be devoted to performing a Cycle.
THLady Tyzes Sofia, the founder and manager of the Known World Players, hopes that potential viewers won't be scared off by the plays' religious themes. "Our mission is to perform period theater in a period fashion," she says. "We are not trying to preach religion to anyone. This is a look at something done in period, and the church was important and such a huge part of daily life. We would be abandoning our mission if we only did early- or late-period comedies and tragedies and never tackled the great wealth of religious plays in the middle. Our production of Everyman also dealt with these themes and met with great success."
In period, each play would be adopted by a guild, which would then stage the play on a mobile pageant wagon. The wagon would stop at several fixed points on what was essentially a parade route, performing the play at each stop. The Players intend to do the same, following a fixed route through Pennsic, so that the audience will have the full medieval experience. In order to accomplish this ambitious goal, however, many hands, and quite a few dollars, will be needed.
The Players are looking for groups to sponsor and perform the various plays. They would love groups from Kingdoms all over the Known World to participate in this one-of-a-kind opportunity at Pennsic War.
To volunteer a group to sponsor and perform a play, to donate money towards the building of the wagons, or simply to get more information and become involved with the Known World Players, please contact Sofia at firstname.lastname@example.org.