Archbishop of York climbs aboard giant Noah's Ark


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The Independent Culture

The Archbishop of York has inspected the final preparations for an event billed as Britain's biggest outdoor theatre production.

Dr John Sentamu stepped aboard a giant recreation of Noah's Ark on the stage of York Mystery Plays 2012.

More than 36,000 people are expected to watch the plays, which begin on August 2 and run until August 27.

A 1,400-seat arena has been constructed amid the ruins of St Mary's Abbey, in the city's Museum Gardens, to host part of the production.

The ark has been made by joinery students at York College.

Dr Sentamu said: "This ark is a fantastic construction and a fantabulous setting.

"Well done to the students and their tutors at York College for their hard work and for responding to the brief to build it, just like Noah.

"My prayer is that as the cast prepare to tell the story of God's majesty, that those floods of people coming along may know their own story to be part of God's story and that they too will be encouraged in faith and in hope."

Phil Mountain, joinery technician at York College, said: "The project has provided an excellent learning experience for our students and tutors and everyone is pleased to have been involved in such a prestigious theatrical event in York."

The plays will feature Ferdinand Kingsley as God and Jesus.

Kingsley has performed in productions for The National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Graeme Hawley - who starred as Coronation Street bad boy John Stape - will play the Devil.

The plays have been told by the people of York for hundreds of years and are seen as part of the city's cultural heritage.

The new adaptation is written by the Olivier award-winning Mike Kenny.