‘[It was]...a play whose radical reinterpretation of its subject I particularly admired.... Indeed, the setting of that play in ... an ‘imminent future,’ together with [the] decision to light it as if it were a live CNN television feed, resulted in one of the most effective revivals of a medieval play I have seen since I began work with the Poculi Ludique Societas some three decades ago..... I know that there was both popular enthusiasm and some scholarly head wagging over that pageant’s use of boom boxes, leather jackets, a martial arts Jesus, and floodlights picking out lost souls in the black of a Toronto night. But there must have been other knowing and entirely secular spectators who, with me, were glad that afterwards they did not have to walk back to their rooms alone through the darkened streets of a medieval town.’ [Joel Kaplan, ‘Afterward,’ in Early Theatre 3 (2000)]
This production by Handmade Performance was presented on 20 June 1998, at the University of Toronto, as part of a day-long performance of the complete York Cycle of medieval religious plays produced by the Poculi Ludique Societas and the Records of Early English Drama. The Cycle was in part an experiment in re-creation, examining the viability of performing all forty-seven plays in one day–as well as an experiment in the theatrical limits and potential of the pageant wagon. It was also an increasingly rare example of outdoor community theatre, drawing from a broad range of local, national and international performance groups, playing to large and enthusiastic audiences. Productions ranged from the concerted effort to re-create the original circumstances of production, to the radical re-reinterpretation that re-cast the anachronism and topicality of the original in a contemporary idiom.
The Last Judgement was the final play, performed at and after dark. Like all other plays, it was performed four times in quick succession, rolling the wagon between venues (or ‘stations’).
A special volume of the journal Early Theatre: A Journal Associated with the Records of Early English Drama, was devoted to the production of the complete York Cycle produced in 1998. See ‘Special Volume: The York Cycle Then and Now,’ in Early Theatre (Volume 3, 2000), published by McMaster University Press. Included was an article on Handmade Performance’s version of ‘The Last Judgement,’ which outlines the mandate of the group, and the specific goals of this production.
For Handmade Performance’s ‘Last Judgement’:
Richard Trevor-Williams (God)
Andrew Croft (Jesus)
Jennifer Johnson (Bad Soul)
Vern Gonsalves (Bad Soul)
Laryssa Yanchak (Good Soul)
Kristie Painting (Good Soul)
Adam Lazarus (Angel)
Ryan Stevens (Angel)
Isaac Crosby (Devil)
Nicole Fougère (Devil)
Erika Herrnsdorf (Devil)
Luisa Fragale (Apostle and Stage Manager)
Lucy Giannini (Apostle and Co-Stage Manager)
Nicole Abel (Apostle and Co-Stage Manager)
Maurizio Dodaro and Rosa Fracassa (Costumes; Lighting technicians)
Simon Wood (Sound Designer and Composer)
Jennifer Johnson (Movement Director)
Stephen Johnson (Producer/Director)
With indispensable assistance from Dave Woodcroft and his crew of strong-arms, who rolled the wagon, hoisted the lift, and physically created Hell Mouth at four stations. It is important to note that, in the spirit of the community pageant, they did all this on their way to a friend’s stag party.
Thanks also to everyone on the PLS York Production Committee and involved with technical production was patient as well as knowledgeable. Among that group, special thanks to Kimberley M. Yates and Chester N. Scoville for a full-prepared actor-friendly text, Chris Warrilow for the working lift, Luella Massey and Linda Phillips for technical advice, and David Klausner for the open and forthright discussion of interpretation.