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News Release - Issued by York Minster

York Minster Mystery Plays 2016 - Director, Writer and Musical Director Announced

With just 54 weeks to go until the first night performance, York Minster today announced the line-up for the super talented artistic team that will be responsible for next summer’s staging of the York Minster Mystery Plays 2016.

The director – Phillip Breen
Young, multi-award winning director Phillip Breen will direct York Minster’s production. This is announced just days after the triumphant opening in Tokyo of his production of the Tennessee Williams' “Orpheus Descending” at Yukio Ninagawa's Theatre Cocoon. Much in-demand, Phillip Breen’s recent work includes directing two hit productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company “The Shoemaker’s Holiday” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor”. He directed an acclaimed production of “True West” by Sam Shepard at the Citizen’s Theatre, Glasgow which subsequently transferred to the Tricycle Theatre in London. From a punk Christmas Lecture with Vivienne Westwood to devising site specific jazz cabaret off-Broadway, from massive community projects in Assisi and Dubai, from a big top in Dalston to the Sydney International Festival, to Fringe First winning productions of new plays, Phillip has demonstrated broad theatrical tastes and imagination which he is looking forward to applying to this new production of the York Minster Mystery Plays 2016.

The writer – Mike Poulton
Mike Poulton wrote the York Millennium Mystery Plays staged at York Minster in 2000. His list of writing credits since then has been remarkable with his work being performed at theatres across the country including the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, the Crucible in Sheffield, the Chichester Festival Theatre and widely in London’s West End including the Old Vic, the Almeida and the Donmar Warehouse.

Mike wrote the scripts for the RSC’s productions of Hilary Mantel’s global best-selling novels “Wolf Hall” and “Bring Up the Bodies”. The production became a sensation for the RSC in 2013-2014, breaking box office records at Stratford upon Avon and at the Aldwych in London. The RSC’s production is currently playing on the American stage on Broadway as ‘Wolf Hall Part One’ and ‘Wolf Hall Part Two’ and on 28 April 2015, Mike’s adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s novels were recognised with a nomination for a “Tony” – the most prestigious award in the American theatre industry.

The musical director - Richard Shephard MBE
Well known as a composer and practitioner of choral music Dr Richard Shephard is a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Music at York University and a member of the University’s Court. He was formerly Headmaster of the Minster School in York from 1985-2004 and served as Chamberlain of York Minster and Director of Development for the Minster, responsible for funding the conservation work of the Minster. He has served on the Archbishops’ Commission on Church Music and was also Visiting Professor in the Music Department of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. He holds a number of honorary doctorates in music and holds an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal School of Church Music.

As a composer he is known chiefly for his church music including works for English cathedrals such as Salisbury, Hereford, Liverpool and Gloucester. In collaboration with the American musician and composer Mark Schweizer, Richard has written a number of operas. His theatrical work includes a number of light operettas, much incidental music for a variety of theatres, including the Salisbury Playhouse, and the score for the Millennium Mystery Plays, staged in York Minster.

Commenting on the announcement of the artistic team for the York Minster Mystery Plays 2016, the Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull said:

“This is an astonishingly talented and renowned team and we are absolutely thrilled that they have agreed to take on the monumental challenge of delivering this once in a generation event at York Minster.

“Phil, Mike and Richard’s involvement provide an indication of our aspirations for the production, for the local performers who will work with them to bring the production to life and the community of York and the wider Northern Province.”


Go to and follow #MysteryPlays16.

For more information please contact:
Sharon Atkinson – Director of Communications – t: 01904 557248 m: 07785 615457
Leanne Woodhurst – Communications Manager – – t: 01904 559545m: 07557 110718
Stacey Healey – Marketing Executive – t: 01904 559545 m: 07557 110718