We know it’s been raining a lot lately, but this is ridiculous…

Ark bishop: Dr John Sentamu steps into Noah's sandals. Photograph: Kippa Matthews
After the wettest spring and summer in living memory, the Archbishop of York has taken drastic action and climbed aboard an ark.

Worried onlookers watched as Dr John Sentamu took brief advantage of a lull in the rain to take the helm of the flood-proof wooden vessel. Built in York’s Museum Gardens, the ark, which is registered to one “Noah”, is only a short distance from the tempestuous waters of the swollen River Ouse.

Fortunately, though, there’s no reason to start rounding up our pets into twos and heading ark-wards. The Archbishop was only on board to promote the York Mystery Plays 2012.

Dr Sentamu, a patron of the plays, was giving everyone a first look at the spectacular setting for the plays and Noah’s ark, which has been made by joinery students at York College.

“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!,” the Archbishop said.

“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.”

Two by two: the Archbishop is joined by Jesus, aka actor Ferdinand Kingsley. Photograph: Kippa Matthews
Phil Mountain, joinery technician at York College said: “The college was given a brief which stated that the eleven pieces that make up the ark needed to slot together easily, they also had to be durable to withstand the rehearsal period and the month-long run of the Mystery Plays.

“There are many angles used in the making of the different pieces and we had to get them just right. This has been an interesting and high profile project to work on. The abstract design works very well and the ark will have a great impact on the stage.”

The York Mystery Plays will be the biggest outdoor theatre production in the UK this year and take place in Museum Gardens from August 2 to August 27, with covered seating for 1,400 people especially built around the ancient walls of St Mary’s Abbey.

The 357 square metre stage and 1,400 seats are now nearly assembled so the first dress rehearsals can begin to take place shortly. It is hoped more than 36,000 people will come and see the plays throughout the month of August.

National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company actor Ferdinand Kingsley, 24, is playing God and Jesus in the plays. He joined the Archbishop aboard the ark.