Creative storytelling and performance

Three female actors in period costume on a mobile stage Untitled Page

Soundscapes of the York Mystery Plays

The Soundscapes of the York Mystery Plays project uses digital audio technologies to recreate York’s 15th and 16th-century soundscapes during the performances of the Mystery Plays, allowing for reflection on their impact on the plays.

The recreated soundscapes will include elements of the narrative (speech, music, sound effects), any sounds resulting from the performance (wagons, audiences) and also those that were external (weather conditions, bells). Modern aural considerations will also be investigated through the collection of oral histories of organisers, performers and audiences, in order to establish parallels between the medieval and modern experiences, allowing us to highlight the value of medieval studies in the modern world.

Mystery Plays 3

Hearing the Mystery Plays

In July 2014, CoDE Postdoctoral Researcher Mariana Lopez took her sound installation 'Hearing the Mystery Plays' to All Saints Church, Pavement (York, UK).

The installation resulted from Mariana's research into the acoustics of the performance spaces of the York Mystery Plays in medieval times, using computer models. It allowed visitors to explore how the acoustics of the street spaces and different staging configurations might have affected the spoken and sung items of the plays, while also providing information on the technology that made the research project possible.

The installation was part of a series of events that accompanied the 2014 staging of the York Mystery Plays.


Triggered is a music and dance collaboration which examines the nature of electronic and digital interfaces for musical and physical expression. The project employs an innovative use of custom software and sculptural sensor clusters, the data from which is used to control multiple and evolving musical parameters. Algorithms within the software are used to explore relationships and feedback mechanisms between sound and movement. The current outputs of this project include creative exploration using these means to create a significant public performance at Kings Place, London, on Monday 13 June 2011. The project is a collaboration between Dr Richard Hoadley and Dr Tom Hall (Department of Music and Performing Arts and the Digital Performance Laboratory), with Dr Cheryl Frances-Hoad (Opera North/University of Leeds), Jane Turner (London Metropolitan University) and guest musicians Dr Sam Hayden (University of Durham) and Dr Jonathan Impett (University of East Anglia).

Opening the Gate

Judy Forshaw produced this filmed record of the work carried out by the Digital Innovation in Distribution Fund, which grew out of the Film Council's decision to investigate the use of the internet as means of reaching new audiences.

The recently abolished Film Council was established in 2000 under the Labour government specifically to support independent film, foreign language film and documentaries that are difficult to market. Since its creation the Film Council has invested over £160m of Lottery funding into more than 900 films, which has helped generate over £700 million at the box office worldwide.

The Digital Innovation in Distribution Find was specifically set up to cover the cost of on-line media and website promotion only. Twelve awards were made to distributors of £30,000 each. This type of online promotion has been successfully used by Hollywood block busters and grass roots filmmakers in the past, but seldom in the independent sector as a whole, so this signals a departure.

European Storytelling Archive

The aim of this project is to create an archive of subtitled digital films of oral storytelling drawn from a wide range of European languages and cultural traditions. We have chosen to create a video archive in order to preserve not only the texts of the stories, but also the non-verbal narrative and performance techniques of a wide range of storytellers.

This will be of use to both the study of scholars and to teachers who wish to encourage their pupils or students to tell and record their own stories, giving them the opportunity to contribute to the archive themselves. To encourage these additional contributions, we plan to develop a suite of open source software tools, through which school pupils and further/higher education students will be able to create their own digital stories using computer technology and social media as a contemporary analogue of oral transmission. We also plan to create a virtual environment for communication and self-initiated, peer-supported creative learning - an online European Story Map - through which these contributions can be shared to stimulate and encourage further storytelling.

Supported by the British Academy (Small Research Grant).