The Players of St Peter-upon-Cornhill
Scenes from the
Wakefield Plays

Moses and the Burning Bush
Pharaoh and the Plagues of Egypt
The Annunciation
Second Shepherds' Play
Offering of the Magi
The Flight into Egypt

December 1978

The Cast
Herbert Wanbon Prior Western School 1978 Cast
Due to an unforgivable oversight, the previous version of this page omitted the line: adapted and produced by Kathryn Gray. To confirm that this version is now correct, raw scans of the entire programme (a single A4 sheet printed on both sides) can be seen here: recto · verso.
Moses God Pharaoh Councillor 1 Councillor 2 Councillor 3 Gabriel Mary Joseph Johan de Rycker John Salem Tom Fuller Barry Peters Michael Tyldesley John Povey Derek Hutchinson Isabel Pearson Herbert Wanbon Shepherd 1 Paul Bromly Shepherd 2 Michael Tyldesley Shepherd 3 Brian Hunt Mak Patrick Gaskell-Taylor Gil Eileen Mills King 1 Jock Longstaff King 2 Peter Duras King 3 Barry Peters Children Pupils of Prior Western School Stage Manager Eve Haughton Lighting Ken MacLeod Music arranged by Simon Lole, B Mus Wardrobe Elizabeth Wright Imelda Bragg Properties Gillian Emmett Box Office Francis Stephenson Adapted and Produced by Kathryn Gray The Players of StPeter-upon-Comhill President The Lord Mayor of London Vice-Presidents The Lord Bishop of London, D P d'Ambrumenil, Dame Cicely Courtneidge, James Guinness, J C T Longstaff, Henry Schiller, John Evenett Chairman Reverend Alan Cook MA Hon C F Rector of St Peter-upon-Cornhill Hon. Secretary Mrs J L C Eatock Taylor Hon. Treasurer Ken MacLeod The Plays Of the four great cycles of Medieval plays, the one which has come to be known as the Wakefield is the most modern - fifteenth century = and in one particular instance the most intriguing, for it contains the first example of original thought in the history of English drama. There are thirty-two plays in the cycle stretching from the Creation to the Last Judgement, and if we were to perform them all, it would last some six or eight hours. We have chosen to do only seven of the scenes, all of them familiar stories taken from the Bible, except for the Second Shepherds' Play. The story of Mak the Sheepstealer, and his over-bearing wife, is pure invention, its author, alas, unknown; but we can hazard a guess that its inclusion reflected a local incident that would have appealed to and amused first audiences. Sheep stealing was a hangable offence in Medieval England, but the reason for Mak's lucky if undignified reprieve is due to the fact that tossing someone in a blanket was an accepted form of hastening childbirth. As the scene changes from absurdity to reverence, and the shepherds travel to Bethlehem, they take with them gifts of cherries, a bird, and a ball. These represent the mid-winter miracle of Death and Resurrection, the Holy Ghost, and the Orb of Royalty. Those of you who count the plagues of Egypt will be mystified by the tenth plague. There is no death of the first-born; pestilence takes its place, as it does in all the cycles. Again, this was poetic licence to bring home to the Medieval audiences the horror of the plagues, for the death of a child, though terrible in its way, was far from unusual in the fifteenth century, and an acknowledged fact of life; but pestilence was the most feared of all afflictions, destroying whole communities in its path. The adapter has endeavoured to maintain the original verse form of these plays, though one or two obscure words have been replaced with more modern ones. K Y G At the end of the performance, the audience is invited to stand and join in the singing of the carol. A collection will be taken to help pay for the cost of the production and for the ever-increasing cost of maintaining the church. The Church - A Message from the Rector Welcome to the Parish Curch of St. Peter's. This present Church was built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1667-1687, and is the fifth Church we believe to be built on this site, on top of the Corn Hill. St. Peter's was already known as the oldest Church in London in A D 700, and it is assumed that Bishop Restitutus of London had his base here as in the early years it had Cathedral status. He was one of the three British Bishops who represented the British Church at the Council of Aries in A D 314. But its foundation is reputed to have been in A D 179 when a local king became a Christian and gave permission for a Church to be built beside the Roman Forum, which still lies unexcavated underneath Leadenhall Market. This earlier date is only historically probable, but it is based on a record in the Liber Pontificalis of the 6th Century. A very famous Plaque, of early 14th Century date, hangs in the Vestry and also tells the story. The Organ is famous, built by Schmidt in the reign of Charles II, which Mendelssohn thought the finest in London. It is very suitable for Elizabethan and Baroque music with some unusual flute stops. It was a favourite Church of Dick Whittington, a parishioner in Leadenhall in 1420; and the City of London School come here for their annual service because John Carpenter was buried here. Today it is used by individuals all through the day as a place for quiet and prayer, and many small groups from local Banks, Insurance Companies, Lloyds etc. use it in half hour shifts during the lunch times, and after office hours. Like all the City Churches it is a base for many other activities, a centre for the British Sailors Society meetings, the Church of England Mens Society Committees; it is the Regimental Church of the Royal Tank Regiment, the Church of the Poulters Company, and the Lime Street Ward. It's slogan is 'Worship God where you live and work, as well as where you live and sleep'. May this evening be an inspiring and memorable occasion for us all. Alan J N Cook