Martial Rose rejected stop-to-stop performance of every episode within the York cycle on the grounds that his own estimate of 15 hours for a single performance and 19 hours 35 minutes for a total performance was impossibly long (Rose 25-26). Rose was more interested in building a case for the staging of the Wakefield plays in the round than he was in accurately exploring the York staging; he simplified the case for York, basing his calculations on an average play length of 273 lines, which he said would take fifteen minutes to perform (Rose 26), at a rate of 1092 lines per hour.
Nelson modified Rose's work in several important ways. He pointed out that the procession was much more complex and lengthy than Rose had estimated. Because the plays are not of a uniform length, performances would result in inefficient gaps and backups. Nelson estimated that a single performance would last approximately 14,215 lines (based on Toulmin-Smith's line counts), or, using the convenient figure of 1000 lines per hour, 14.215 hours (14 hours, 13 minutes); and that a full performance at 12 stations would last for 21,321 lines (21 hours 19 minutes). Note that Nelson's single performance was shorter than Rose's (due in large part to Nelson's shorter "lines per hour" estimate), but his total performance was longer (due to Nelson's more complex and more accurate representation of a processional performance). Nelson stressed that his own figures, based on Toulmin-Smith's line counts, represented conservative estimates -- varying line forms, missing leaves, incidental songs, pantomimes, and processional entrances and exits would undoubtedly add to the performance time.
In an unpublished dissertation, Ruth Brant Gaede independently made some of the same modifications to Rose's work; however, she did not account for backups. She also used a much slower "lines per hour" figure (870 lines per hour) (Gaede 51, n 59). Her overcompensation for Rose's conservative estimates results in a single performance time of 18 hours, a total performance time of 33 hours 52 minutes for the usual 12 stations, and a whopping 38 hours 8 minutes for 16 stations (Gaede 85). Such figures led her to reject the traditional model.
Margaret Rogerson (then Margaret Dorrell) modified Nelson's work for
her own time study. She ironed out minor kinks in Nelson's estimates (such
as pacing out the travel times between the 12 official stations, which
turned out for the most part to be smaller than Nelson had estimated),
thereby reducing the estimated single performance time to 13 hours 18 minutes
and the total performance time to just under 20 hours.
Estimated Duration of a
48-Play York Cycle
| 12 Stations