Inviting the audience into a Passion Play

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Members of the audience can be part of a Passion Play in many ways and watching is not a passive experience – in many ways an audience actually becomes part of the story. People around the UK were caught up in live re-enactments of the Passion story in parks, shopping centres and town squares. A wedding celebration with music and dance in Hinksey Park in Oxford, a Flash mob with Jesus on a bicycle in Dudley, a procession with palm branches and a donkey in Worcester. How can we bring the audience into the story and make the Passion story come alive for them? Read our latest blog to find out more!


The Worcester Passion Play which took place in Cathedral Square opened with a Palm Sunday procession onto the square. People with Palm branches came through the audience, creating an atmosphere very quickly and gathering up people who stop to watch. Then they saw the healing of a child who couldn’t walk and a man with leprosy, and also the release of white doves when Jesus turns over the money-lender’s tables in the temple. They may have also recognised one of the theives on the cross alongside Jesus. The Bishop of Worcester was on one of the crosses – as the thief that didn’t repent! Also in the play as one of the priest was the head of the Catholic Church in the city, Father Brian Mcginley.


The audience who gathered in Forbury Gardens, Reading, found themselves welcomed by Jesus himself. As he arrived in a Palm Sunday procession with music and the song ‘Hosanna in the highest’, Jesus reached out and shook shook one person’s hand or put his hand on another person’s shoulder. ‘I’m so glad you’re here’, he said. ‘Thank you for coming, I’m so glad you’re here.’


In Havant, the actor playing Jesus treated the audience as the crowd in the Gospel story.

The audience was part of the story. So that they were they were priests and teachers of the law when I was talking to the Pharisees. Some of what I address was to them, so I was looking at the audience as well as the actors. The audience were also the arresting party. When they came to Gethsemane. They were the crowd of people in Jerusalem when I was doing the teaching about the sheep and the goats. So a lot of it was directed so that I spoke to them. I looked at them and made eye contact with with the people that were watching, so that they felt very much part of the story absolutely.


In Dudley, a modern production of the Passion saw Jesus arriving riding on a bicycle. The audience that gathered around the Duncan Edwards statue and other key locations of the city centre found actors around them in normal clothes as part of the performance.  There were lots of references to Dudley in the script, including local foods and customs and favourite places like ‘Sophie’s Plaice’ where the fish and chips were ordered for the Last Supper.  This Passion Play wasn’t generalized for the whole country. It was specifically done for Dudley.

Jesus is surrounded by a large, happy crowd with women and children waving green palm branches.