Can you create your own?
To help you get started, a modern-spelling script of this play can be downloaded by clicking here.
The fourteenth play from the York Corpus Christi Plays sees the birth of Jesus. It sees Mary and Joseph arrive at Bethlehem, and the birth of Jesus surrounded by animals. It was originally performed by the Guild of Tile-thatchers, and the creation of a stable, "the roof reaved above our head", was an ironic advert for their trade.
Following medieval folklore, the animals speak (or perhaps sing?) at the hour of Jesus's birth, "make loving in their manner/ as if they were men". This strange miracle is rarely seen in modern productions, although it lives on in the traditional school nativity.
The actual moment of birth has been accomplished differently in production, including revealing Jesus from underneath a cloak (as in 1951), obscured by Mary's back (1960) or by angels (2016), or revealed through a blinding light (2015). However, the medieval performance most likely mirrored the elevation of the Host, in which the priest raised the communion bread- the Body of Christ- up above his head, facing away from the congregation. Mary would therefore have turned from the audience and raised up a puppet or bundle representing the baby Jesus, perhaps at the same moment that a star rose up behind the waggon.
The Nativity sequence has proved popular as the centre of standalone plays performed at Christmas, including the long-running Aldermaston Nativity, a production by the York City Centre Churches (2015), and the York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust (2019).
The original script, in 15th Century Middle English, can be found here, courtesy of Prof. Clifford Davidson and the University of Rochester's TEAMS Middle English Text Series.
The York Mystery Plays Supporters Trust's performance can be viewed on Youtube, or below: