The Cornish Ordinalia

I was lucky enough to spend ten weeks working with the dazzlingly talented Hall for Cornwall Youth Theatre (seniors). The Medieval Miracle & Mystery Plays project was inspired by four medieval Cornish play manuscripts, thought to be over 600 years old and which were historically performed to spread Christian ideas and stories of the Bible. The four plays The Cornish Ordinalia, Gwrians an Bys, Bewnans Ke and Bewnans Meriasek, are all written in medieval Cornish, and are hundreds of years old. They are currently held in libraries in Oxford and Wales, but returned to Cornwall in June for the first time in centuries for a very special temporary exhibition at Kresen Kernow, Cornwall’s archive centre.

Hall for Cornwall Youth Theatre Seniors rehearsing ‘King Arthur’ at Kresen Kernow. Picture ⓒ Hall for Cornwall.

I assistant directed two plays alongside Roisin McCay-Hines, the director: The Curing of Constantine and How St Kea Got His Lands. Traditionally the plays were staged out in the open, and within the traditional format of the Plen an Gwari (medieval amphitheatres found in Cornwall) where actors perform in the round. The terrible weather forced an indoor performance but it didn’t diminish the experience one jot. It was an absolute triumph! The scripts were written by Youth Theatre’s Artistic Director Simon Harvey. Further plays in the collection were directed by Susan Lay & James D’Arcy (Juniors); Kim Healey & Lewis May (Juniors); Tori Cannell & Hollie Lovelock (Intermediates); Michael Fenner & Shelley Deans (Intermediates); Sam Colborne & Millie Jones (Seniors). 

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