Withensea

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A black cross on a hill with the sea in the background under a sunset sky. Words in white say Passion Play 2019.

The play used to be performed annually in Sheffield from 2001, where a member of the audience once described as it “better that Oberammergau”.

At Easter 2017 many South Holderness residents gathered on a brilliantly sunny weekend both at Withensea and Hedon for an outdoor Passion Play entitled ‘Easter Story’. The Withensea Passion Play was so successful that people have asking “When is the Passion Play coming back?”

Members of Christ Christ Church Stannington devised the play on the western edge of Sheffield overlooking the Peak District. Also, on three occasions it was performed in Sheffield’s City Centre, attracting hundreds of people. It is a simple retelling of the story in narrated mime. The audience stand around each brief scene, then move with the players to the next scene which is a short walk away. As they move with the action, they feel they are participants the drama. They watch the betrayal, trials, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Although simply told, the play is powerful and effective, and it draws people to watch it year after year. Standing round the action also enables members of the audience to leave at any time they wish. The Deanery of South Holderness, Diocese of York, along with members of other local churches produced the play. This is with support from people outside the church, and with permission and support from the East Riding County Council, Hedon Town Council, and Withernsea Town Council. Bishop Alison of Hull will join us at both performances.

The churches in medieval Britain started to act out the Bible stories on the streets because they realised that people were not familiar with them. These were the ‘Mystery Plays’ of old. In our own times the situation is similar: many people have never learnt about the Bible stories. A few years ago a survey showed that the majority of people do not know the Easter story, as told by the Withensea Passion Play, which is tragic. The story has been called ‘the greatest story ever told’. And it is part of our British heritage, as well as being a vehicle of faith for millions of people. We should not lose it.

For more information contact Philip West: philipwest@pwwest.karoo.co.uk 01964 603199