How to stage the crucifixion

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How to stage the crucifixion

The story of Easter is set in Jerusalem in the first century when it was occupied by the Roman army. The Crucifixion was a product of this harsh and brutal time, and the Roman centurions who were in charge of keeping the peace in the occupied city were particularly harsh and brutal. They recognised no one’s basic human rights, unless you were a Roman citizen.

The directors and producers who put on free Passion Plays around the UK every Easter spend a lot of time working out ways to stage the crucifixion in a way that is realistic, moving, meaningful…and safe!

How to be crucified multiple times over

One of our trustees, James Burke-Dunsmore, has been crucified more than anyone else in the UK with over 250 crucifixions in rehearsals and performances around the world.

He has suffered many injuries over the years.  One year an amateur actor playing a Roman centurion accidentally smashed his ankle with a hammer while nailing him to the cross. Other years he had to perform in temperatures that plummeted below zero and, along with the two other men being crucified, his vocal cords were so cold he had to scream his words and his extremities started turning blue.

Just last year James played Jesus in his last Passion Play and is no longer to be found on the streets in robes and sandals. He continues to tell the Easter story and works with directors, actors, and volunteers across the UK through his work at the Passion trust and with the Havant Passion Play. You can read more about his last performance in his interview with The Times here.

The community casts who work together to tell the story of Easter often run workshops to rehearse ways of crucifying actors safely. They also teach stage fighting and how to use swords and daggers safely on the stage. If you would like to find out more about safe crucifixion and stage fighting you can watch the video below and find other videos on our website here.

Banner reading Find out more about Easter Passion Plays in the UK