What is it like being in the cast of a Passion Play?

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Thinking of taking part in a Passion Play near you next Easter? Passion Plays have the largest outdoor audiences of live theatre in the UK and they also have the largest volunteer casts. There is space for everyone who wants to take part, whatever your skills or background experiences. Find out what other people have said about taking part and how you can too in this blog!


What is it like taking part in a large community cast?

The community cast that formed around the Nottingham Passion created a joyful, generous experience. Telling the Easter story in a new way created a new community and shared experiences, according to James Carter, the actor who played Jesus:

“Time shared with strangers, who quickly became dear friends, in this joyful, generous, hyper-focused theatre-making bubble we constructed for ourselves, has changed me. It appears to have changed other members of our company too, at least based on the words they’ve offered about their experiences on this project. I get a sense that The Nottingham Passion will not be the last hurrah for this mighty group of people. There will be other amazing stories for us to tell. I think it’s a matter of when, rather than if. Seeds have been sown. I think that’s clear to everyone.”


What is it like being one of the women in the Passion story?

Actor Alison Parkinson talks about how she got into character in the run-up to Saturday’s performance in Edinburgh. And also the research she did into the women who worked with Jesus. In this video, she talks about Mary Magdalene who is both a character in the play and a narrator:

“She was very much like a female disciple and was with all the other disciples. And also, as a narrator, will give people a different perspective, some of a woman’s perspective of the importance of the story. It still has so much resonance today.”  

Click here see the full video.

A woman stands with her hands in front of her during a rehearsal with figures milling around behind her.


What is it like being one of the disciples?

Journalist Martin Wainwright, writing for The Guardian in 2014, describes the joy of being part of a Passion Play. Not only a Passion Play, but also a national revival of Passion Plays. You can read about his experience in the extract below. You can also read the full article on our website.

“I have been learning lines for the first time since I studied for my A-levels 46 years ago, and turning out on chilly evenings to help recreate Jerusalem in AD33 in our Woodstock market square, Oxfordshire. A thoroughly mixed bag of us have been darting around in hi-vis vests to avoid being run over. Saying such lines as “Blasphemer! Crucify him!” quietly enough to avoid annoying the people having a more conventional night out.

This Sunday at 3pm, the show will go on for real, and it promises to be noisy, educational and fun. The word “fun” might sound inapposite for a story containing passages of great cruelty and grief. But the national revival of the plays has as much to say about community as it does religion.

Our rehearsals have brought together a comprehensive group of locals, from a teenage rock band singer (Jesus) to a former MP (Pontius Pilate). We bond over fish and chips. And emails that read along the lines of “No Last Supper rehearsal – only one disciple can make it” and “Don’t wear trainers. They weren’t invented in Jesus’s time.”

Local singers have set up an ad hoc community choir, schools are involved, and we’ve even managed to link the enterprise to eternal debates about parking. The parking problem would take a miracle to solve in Woodstock. But abuse of yellow lines was notably less on a night when Roman soldiers and Temple priests (I’m one of those) were out in force rehearsing. 

The choice of venues include behind Tesco for Pilate’s death sentence and Manzil Way health centre for the crucifixion. This makes an important point about presenting ancient lessons on human behaviour in a modern setting.”


How can you take part?

Do you want to join a community cast or volunteer in one of the many roles in the cast and crew of a Passion Play near you? If so, you can find lots of information and help on our website. 

We have an interactive map that can help you find a play near you which you can use here.

We also have people who can help you with advice and further information so you can contact us via our website.