An amazing love story uplifting the spirit strengthens the faith. Messages of love peace and sacrifice hope it has reached to those who have forgotten about it.
Geoff Millard, who had previously delivered two passions in Bolton and many others, directed the play. He directed it in the tradition of the Medieval York Mystery Plays in a contemporary way making it relevant today. Our chair, Canon Falak Sher who manages two parishes and four congregations in Manchester, oversaw the Manchester Passion play and all the activities.
How the City came together for the Manchester Passion
Fourteen schools in Manchester & Greater Manchester participated in the schools’ arts project. Organisers sent 1000 handmade wooden crosses to the schools with an information letter for parents. The crosses children had decorated were displayed for public to see on the day of the performance. Baroness Williams of Trafford with the help of Daphne Stephenson, an award-winning arts teacher, chose and presented the top three crosses.
There was pre-passion music entertainment by Trinity School Choir and Sweet Rhythm Big Band. Award-winning musician Wayne Ellington brought together and directed the music entertainment. A woman wrote on Facebook:
There were 200 volunteers, some Muslims, some Hindu, some homeless and some ex-offenders. Amongst this diversity was great harmony, peace and fun throughout the day. There was considerable inter-faith involvement throughout the planning and preparation for the play. Canon Sher and a Muslim man from the local community discussed the initial idea. In a video interview posted on Facebook this man said he believed this was ‘the greatest story ever told’. Also, a few days before the performance a Muslim businessman gave a donation of £1,000 in support of the play.
3000 people attended the event admiring the crosses displayed, enjoying the music, the sunshine and the Passion play. Leaders of churches across Manchester joined City leaders, from MPs, MEPs, Chief of Police and Minister of State. The organisers live-streamed the play to Facebook and many people commented that it was great to see even though they couldn’t make it to the Cathedral Gardens.
BBC coverage, press and audience reactions
The BBC filmed the day and the activities. This coverage was on the 6 o’clock news on 8th April and will be on the Songs of Praise on Easter Sunday. Songs of Praise has 15 million viewers with peak viewing at Easter. There was also considerable press coverage leading up to the event in The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times, BBC News Online and Manchester Evening News. People gave radio interviews with the BBC Radio North West and BBC Radio Four.
I attended the Passion on Saturday by sheer chance! I am very glad I did as it was a remarkable event on many levels and most stimulating as both a drama and a religious/spiritual experience. I hope that this becomes a Manchester tradition. It deserves to be as famous as Oberammergau.
Not usually my thing but had a wonderful time.
Hours of practice for all involved but the result was super.
The choir was excellent too, very uplifting.
Well done everyone.
A very moving portrayal, particularly the sight of the three crosses in front of the Cathedral. There was a lady nearby who stood up crying as Jesus was raised onto the cross. Although I think she was vulnerable, it brought home how those who witnessed this event at the time, must have felt. There were lots of people there from various churches, but I hope that the Christian message of Easter reached others who may have forgotten. Thank you