Can you create your own?
To help you get started, a modern-spelling script of this play can be downloaded by clicking here.
The twenty-first play from the York Corpus Christi Plays finds two cousins in the desert- John and Jesus- as the latter begins his ministry. John is understandably reluctant to ritually purify his cousin. The adult Jesus becomes a figure to contemplate for the audience, a "mirror for humanity", and so- like all good Christians- must be symbolically washed clean.
The Barbers who produced this pageant were not only responsible for cutting hair- perhaps a source of a wild John's wig- but basic surgery and healing. Likewise, Jesus is described in the play as "sovereign leech" (or healer), and "salve of all sores". The play begins a theme of washing and healing that continues throughout the other pageants.
In modern performances, the Baptism has often been used to swiftly introduce the actor playing Jesus, before giving way to the Temptation and its dramatic confrontation with Lucifer. The waggon plays have found a more contemplative approach, most recently in 2014 drawing heavily on music provided by the angels.
The play is based on Matthew 3:13–17 and John 1: 29-34.
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.
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