by Alanna Carlson
One would not expect to see the story of Cain and Abel in the same production as a John Deere tractor, but that is the type of juxtaposition one will see at the theatre department’s upcoming production of “The Wakefield Mysteries.”
The scenes of the play feature various Bible stories. As one scene begins, Moses stands in front of the burning bush, dressed as a shepherd. God’s booming voice reveals His plan for Israel’s deliverance. In another scene, shepherds stand speechless as angels sing to them of the coming of Jesus.
“The Wakefield Mysteries” will feature these moments (and many more, mostly from the Old Testament).
Director Diana Trotter and her cast and crew have been working non-stop the past few weeks to bring this experience to the Whitworth campus.
“The Wakefield Mysteries” will feature the first half of the Wakefield cycles, from creation to nativity. The creative team for the show has been working since spring of last year to prepare, and the rest of the cast and crew have been working since the first day of classes, Trotter said.
The play, which originated in Medieval England and is thought to have been written by clergy, was originally a production that would take several days. The play was put on in celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi.
This adaptation will cover stories from Adam and Eve to the birth of Christ, with stories in between that specifically allude to the coming of Christ, Trotter said. The stories are ones many Whitworth students grew up hearing, from the story the Flood to the story of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
Just because they are Bible stories does not mean the play will be overly familiar. Trotter and her team have taken a lot of interpretive freedom by including contemporary elements such as modern jokes mixed with biblical themes. The result is a funny, yet touching rendition of classic Bible stories.
“In the same way that the medieval people mixed biblical stuff with their stuff, we’ve done the same thing,” Trotter said.
That is not the only thing about Wakefield that differs from the traditional renditions of Bible stories, however.
“I think what’s striking about the play itself is sometimes you see how different Medieval theology is. It’s surprising how there is actually quite a lot of silliness,” said Keith Wyma, a philosophy professor who plays Lucifer and King Herod in the production.
Indeed, the juxtaposition between comedy and sobriety may come as somewhat jarring to some audience members, with some scenes eliciting tears and other evoking joy.
“The Wakefield Mysteries” features a strange balance of musical numbers and regular acting. It cannot rightly be named a musical by today’s standards, but there are numerous scenes in which the cast break into song, and God’s angels are dancing almost the whole time they are on stage. The balance between musical elements and acting make for a rare experience.
“I think it’s a good show. People will come away entertained,” said senior Andy Rowland, who plays Cain and Abraham. “Be prepared to be surprised.”
“The Wakefield Mysteries” will be performed Oct. 11, 12, 18, and 19 at 7:20 p.m., and Oct. 13 at 2 p.m.
General admission is $8 and student/senior admission is $6. Tickets can be bought online on the Whitworth theatre website or over the phone by calling the theatre office
Contact Alanna Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org