On Palm Sunday afternoon, 2014, a cast of over eighty local people, including actors, musicians, and both a community choir and children’s choir formed for the occasion, presented the events of Holy Week and Easter morning using the Town Square and the Museum Gardens. The Woodstock Passion Play was a great success and touched the hearts of many people.
Several churches in Woodstock & Bladon have long had a passion for creating an outdoor play re-enacting the events of Holy Week and Easter. After all, it is a great story about love, sacrifice, power, expediency, relationships, betrayal, forgiveness and hope – themes which resonate with all of us, whoever we are. For some, it has deeper significance depending on how much of the story you believe to be actually true and what you think about who the people involved actually were. But, whether you are someone of faith or not, the story itself has shaped the lives of millions of people over the years, as well as our cultural and artistic heritage, and remains an important element in understanding the things and people around us. As a result, it is a story that needs to be told and retold.
“This is the first time I have had a more in depth look at the Gospel and the message behind it. To be absolutely honest, the play and the learning involved (with the people taking part) has given me a whole new view on the bible and the story of Jesus specifically. I feel I will never be truly convinced by the idea of a God or a greater being, and that of miracles and resurrection, however, I have found myself dwelling somewhat on the message that is relayed – I have always had a strong sense of right and wrong but the deeper connotations of the story have really sparked something inside of me and I would be keen to follow that up, and learn/understand it better.” Actor who played Jesus, aged 19
“It was a privilege to be able to be in the audience, to soak up the story from a fresh perspective, to listen in to the comments round about, and to help one or to reflect on what they had seen and heard. It will be remembered by hundreds of people for a long time. The Easter story will never be the same again for anyone who was there this afternoon. Please pass on my thanks and appreciation to any and all whom you think would be glad of it. I shall always remember the sunny Palm Sunday afternoon when Christ walked in Woodstock.” The Rector
“I think it exceeded everybody’s expectation and it all came together on the day. I’ve been stopped by so many people in Woodstock this morning congratulating us and saying how the whole Easter story was brought home to them, and how moved they were – how the Resurrection came almost as a big relief . How Jesus’ words suddenly took on a new meaning and made sense . I feel I’ve been part of something bigger than a theatre production, and am sure we all feel that. So very moving and quite surreal in a way to walk out behind Jesus on the stretcher in total silence and seeing so many upset people – we were suddenly in Jerusalem and it was all so real!” Actor who played Salomen, had been recently bereaved)
“Thank you so much for the opportunity to experience the Easter story so vividly this afternoon. My wife and I enjoyed the performance very much. We were touched and amused in all the right places. Please congratulate everyone involved, especially the children who played their parts so naturally. Thank you for such an engaging experience.” Audience member