THE production team is in place for the York Mystery Plays 2016, led by director Phillip Breen, who is joined by designer Max Jones and the writer and musical director of the Millennium Mystery Plays in 2000, Mike Poulton and Richard Shephard MBE.

Mr Breen flew in from this week's triumphant opening of his Japanese production of Tennessee Williams's Orpheus Descending in Tokyo to attend the unveiling of the 2016 line-up.

Alongside him in the Minster Nave were Mr Jones, who designed Of Mice And Men for the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds last year; Mr Poulton, a specialist in epic theatre, who wrote the adaptations for the Royal Shakespeare Company's staging of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, and Dr Shephard, former headmaster of the Minster School in York from 1985 to 2004 and now Visiting Fellow in the department of music at the University of York.

Mr Breen had been pondering the possibility of directing "maybe a ballet or an opera" when two directorial challenges arose in quick succession, first Tokyo, then York Minster.

"I'm directing the Mystery Plays first of all because I was asked, but also I was genuinely looking for new opportunities," he said. "I really wanted to do something new and these two productions came along."

His Tokyo directorial duties now complete, Mr Breen is turning his attention to the June 2016 production of the York Mystery Plays, and as he visited the Minster again yesterday, he was struck by the magnitude of the building and the challenge ahead. "Awesome," was his reaction as he looked around him, contemplating "this great building, full of people".

"Presenting these plays here is about the shared imagination of people, which is the most important thing about theatre, and sincerely, more than ever there's a need in us to have a shared experience, when even going to the football is now mediated."