Roles don’t get any mightier than playing both God and Jesus. But the man chosen to play both in the York Mystery Plays 2012 has the chops to do it – he’s from an acting dynasty.
Ferdinand Kingsley will take on both parts in the Museum Gardens production this August. The son of Oscar-winning star Sir Ben Kingsley, pictured right, most famous for playing Gandhi, and his former wife, the theatre director Alison Sutcliffe, Ferdinand is steeped in the dramatic arts.
“I am delighted to accept the roles of God and Jesus in the York Mystery Plays 2012,” Ferdinand said today. “The production promises to be spectacular, its scale and ambition are hugely exciting and the setting of St Mary’s Abbey seems perfect.
“Britain is brimming with fantastic theatre this year, and I really think the York Mystery Plays could prove to be one of the highlights. I’m looking forward to joining rehearsals and meeting the huge team of people already working on the show.”
Ferdinand will also be in Richard II, which is part of the BBC’s Shakespeare season to be aired later this year.
Joint artistic directors for the 2012 production, Damian Cruden and Paul Burbridge, said they had been seeking a young actor for the roles. “We were keen that God should be portrayed as a young father with children (Adam and Eve), creative and energetic. In Ferdinand Kingsley we are delighted to have discovered a young actor more than capable of fulfilling this desire and bringing to the stage such a complex double.”
Sir Ben Kingsley was born in Scarborough and brought up in Greater Manchester. The directors said: “He is an exciting young talent with northern roots who has shown a sensitivity to the subject, an understanding of the text and a passion for the project.
“Audiences at The National Theatre in London are already familiar with his work and we look forward to Ferdinand taking the central role in this huge community endeavour here in York.”
Ferdinand is the first professional actor to be cast in the York Mystery Plays 2012, joining a 1,500 strong cast and crew of volunteers.
“The medieval cycle of plays has a world-famous performance history, and the fact that so many members of the local community are involved in this production is a sign that the collaborative and inclusive essence of the York Mystery Plays remains as strong as ever,” he said. “I’m following in some good footsteps.”
No announcement has yet been made about who will fill the other remaining professional acting role, that of the Devil.
- To find out more about The York Mystery Plays 2012, and to book tickets, visit the website