Suzanne Lofthus Interview on Prison Passion Plays
Easter Story Spectacle will take over Abingdon by Sophie Grubb for Oxford Mail (March 9, 2016)
Jesus and his disciples will have “banter” in a spiced-up version of the Easter story for Abingdon residents this weekend. More than 200 amateur actors and schoolchildren will re-enact the last days of Christ in Abingdon Market Place on Sunday at the town’s second ever Passion Play.Director Sam Pullen-Campbell urged people to come and be a part of an unusual theatrical experience.The former head of drama at Radley College, who lives on the campus, said: “It’s an experience to be part of – it’s really unusual to have live theatre on that scale produced by local amateur actors. Continue Reading here.
‘Scottish aristocrat to take Vatican backed Passion play to notorious Italian prison’ in Catholic Herald (4 January, 2016)
Sir Jack Stewart-Clark has won the Vatican’s approval to take a play dramatising the last days of Christ to a notorious Italian jail.The former member of the European Parliament, plans to take the Passion play to the high-security Opera jail, in Milan.Opera is home to some of Italy’s leading Mafia figures, including Salvatore “Toto” Riina, who is said to have ordered the murders of hundreds of people, including policemen and judges Continue reading here.
Passion Play brings live theatre to the streets of Bedford this Easter in Bedford Today (28 February, 2016)
After almost 30 years, the Passion Play is set to return to Bedford town centre this Easter and you can become part of the event. It has been three decades since a full scale, open air production of the Passion Play has been performed on the streets and on Saturday, March 26 the town will be filled with colour for the traditional event Continue Reading here.
‘Scots aristocrat wins Vatican backing to stage last days of Christ play in notorious Italian jail’ by Gerry Braiden for Herald Scotland (4 January, 2016)
A SCOTS aristocrat is to take a dramatisation of the last days of Jesus Christ to one of Italy’s biggest prisons after securing support from the Vatican. Sir Jack Stewart-Clark, owner of Dundas Castle in West Lothian, one of Scotland’s grandest stately homes, and a former Member of the European Parliament, plans to take the Passion play to the notorious high-security Opera jail in Milan next year.
One of Europe’s biggest jails, the Opera is home to some of Italy’s leading Mafia figures, including Salvatore “Toto” Riina, who is said to have ordered the murders of hundreds of people, including judges, policemen and prosecutors Continue reading here.
‘Poole Passion play makes pilgrimage to Italy’ by Daren Slade for Daily Echo (20 September, 2015)
A GROUP of latter day pilgrims from Poole travelled to Italy to link their passion play with those on the continent. The nine actors from the Poole Passion want it to be the first in the UK to become part of Euro Passion.
The Poole Passion is a biennial event that has become a modern tradition in the town. Dubbed the People’s Passion, it began in 2009 and is an inclusive group with members aged from 10 to 90. The play Through The Eyes of a Child was written to be performed in Parkstone United Reformed Church and St Peter’s Parkstone. Continue reading here.
“On The Edge: a play about minnows in Christ’s story” by Susan Mansfield for The Scotsman (29 March, 2015)
“GOT a Jesus”. My phone chimes late one night with this three-word text. Three-and-a-half weeks before the performance of my Passion play in Princes Street Gardens, the actor due to play Christ had to withdraw from the production. Now, with a stroke of timing approaching the miraculous, director Suzanne Lofthus has found another actor: Jesus’ boots were filled.Continue reading here
Staging Passion Play for 200 Years, Italians Become More Than Merely Players by Elisabetta Povoledo for New York Times (5th August 2015)
SORDEVOLO, Italy — The horses were skittish. The microphones occasionally went silent or screeched shrilly. Phones in the audience trilled a little too often. But by and large, the amateur performance of “The Passion of Christ” here on a cool June evening went off without a hitch, the townspeople taking to their roles with considerable verve. Continue reading here.
“Trafalgar Square hosts Easter Passion Play” by Catherine for The Independent (6 April 2015)
Biblical scenes unfolded in Trafalgar Square today as thousands of
people gathered to watch a recreation of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and
resurrection. More than 100 actors took part in the theatrical event in the Good Friday sunshine, with even a donkey and a couple of horses among the cast. View gallery and continue reading here.
Two thousand gather to watch Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection by Laura Proto for Your Local Guardian (Wednesday 8th April 2015)
A squad of Roman soldiers led by a centurion made their way through Richmond town centre on Good Friday. Heron Square was transformed into scenes from the bible including the triumphal entry to Jerusalem, driving out the money changers from the temple, the Last Supper and the betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane. Continue reading here.
‘I never dreamt Havant Passion Play would be so sensational’ in The News, (Thursday 20 August 2015)
Geoff Paffett, project leader, of the Havant Passion Play was astounded by the success of the open-air performances. When we first started thinking about staging a Passion Play in Havant, I never dreamt that it would be as sensational as this.
To have 1,500 people crammed into Havant Park over two days, watching a play about the last week of Jesus’s life was amazing.To gather together a cast of 70, plus a team of 30 other volunteers to organise the open-air performance, was remarkable. Continue reading here.
“The joy of being part of a Passion play – and a national revival” by Martin Wainwright for The Guardian (April 12, 2014)
Today’s young people know more about the general topic of religion than my generation, but less about Christianity in particular. That is for the better. Nonetheless I am grateful to have been hard-wired with specific parables and heroics from the past…It’s one of the reasons for my small part in an interesting revival of medieval tradition: the growing number of Passion plays being staged by amateurs on the UK’s local streets. Continue Reading here
“Oxford City Council apologises after Passion Play it ‘mistook for live sex show’ is cancelled” by Antonia Molloy for The Independent (April 18, 2014)
A council has apologised after a Good Friday Passion Play was cancelled because a councillor reportedly thought it was a live sex show.
The plug was pulled on The Cowley Road Passion Play when an official from Oxford City Council said organisers from St Mary and John church and St Stephens House college could be committing an offence without the proper council permits. Continue reading here
“Drama that acts as an ‘icon'” by Pat Ashworth for Church Times (April 11, 2014)
Bridget Foreman pulls a masterstroke in letting us get a good way into this powerful drama before revealing that a key figure, the sharp-suited leader of the synagogue, is actually Jairus…Like scales falling from the eyes, everything wondrously begins to make sense. Continue reading here
“Thousands of people captivated by Bury St Edmunds passion play” by Jon Vale for East Anglian Daily Times (April 18, 2014)
Bury St Edmunds was transformed from the 21st Century to the 1st Century this morning as vast crowds were left captivated by a vivid re-enactment of Jesus’s crucifixion.
Thousands of people followed this year’s passion play right through the heart of the town, with spectators treated to a brutal yet brilliant rendition of the events behind Easter celebrations. Continue reading here.
“Passion Play in Essex” Independent Catholic News (April 16, 2014)
An ecumenical group is bringing the real story of the first Easter to life in Trinity Square, South Woodham Ferrers on Good Friday and Easter Saturday. Continue reading here
“Theatre Review: The Edinburgh Passion” The Scotsman (April 21, 2014)
In a country something like Scotland, a yes/no referendum is taking place – “yes” for a radical change, “no” for the status quo. Many ordinary folk, particularly the poor and disadvantaged, are leaning towards the “yes” side, while the suit-wearing establishment – all spin-doctors and dodgy anti-terror laws – are desperate to secure a “no”.
And to complicate matters, there’s a new force in the land, a young preacher who doesn’t care which way people vote, so long as they reconcile themselves with God… Continue reading here
“Crucifixion re-enacted in Croydon” by Andrew Bloss for the Croydon Guardian (April 18, 2014)
Hundreds of people gathered in Croydon town centre today to witness a re-enactment of the Crucifixion of Jesus. The annual event is now in its 18th year and more than 800 people turned up to witness the procession which a number of churches took part in. Continue reading here
“Raw, lyrical, relevant: a one-man Passion play to reckon with'” by Bess Twiston-Davies for The Times (April 12, 2014)
Retelling the story of Christ’s last days is usually a task for an ensemble cast. Bess Twiston-Davies meets the actor playing all 18 characters himself… Continue reading here
“James Burke-Dunsmore: Performing the Gospel poorly would be a huge disservice” by Anita Bruce-Mills for Christian Today (January 20, 2014)
The Passion Trust held their third annual Passion conference on Saturday in St Jude’s Church, South Kensington. The registered charity aids and promotes performances of passion plays and biblical stories around the UK. The purpose of passion plays, which are performed during Easter, is to bring the Gospel message to life within communities…. Continue reading here.
“Passion plays ‘stop people in their tracks'” by Pat Ashworth for Church Times (January 24, 2014)
When it comes to telling the Christian story, nothing makes greater impact, or has a higher profile, than a Passion play; it stops people in their tracks, delegates to a conference run by the Passion Trust all agreed on Saturday. Continue reading here
“Jerusalem is coming to a street near you this Easter” by Bess Twiston-Davis for The Times (March 9, 2013)
More and more people all over Europe are preparing to take part in Passion plays, writes Bess Twiston Davies. “It’s modern,” says Lex Houba, but we don’t shoot Jesus – he’s going on the Cross”. The Passion play he produces in Tregelen, near the Dutch border with Germany, is the only one in the Netherlands. It is staged once every five years, and Houba, now 67 has been involved since his mother first brought him, aged 3, to rehearsals. Continue reading here
“An actor who wears his own thorny crown” by David Twiston-Davis for The Telegraph (March 24, 2013)
Strangers often come up to actor James Burke-Dunsmore with a bottle of water, asking him to turn it into wine. It is something he has grown used to during the 16 years he has been playing Jesus Christ in 57 separate productions. “I’m flattered,” he says. “ This is a sign in a supposedly indifferent or hostile age that people are interested.” Continue reading here.
“Liverpool Cathedral to hold city’s first Passion Plays in Easter week”, by Laura Davis for The Liverpool Daily Post (March 14, 2013)
Friendship, betrayal, a weeping mother and a man coming back from the dead – the Easter story has all the elements of a soap opera plotline. But it’s the one of the best known tales in history – also one of the most controversial – so how can it be told in a way that will encourage people to see it through fresh eyes Continue Reading here .
“Congregations buck trend to prove Christianity is a live and kicking in the ‘Godless city'” by Neil Vowles in The Argus (April 2, 2013)
Congregations spilling out of the front doors into the street and cars lined up bumper- to-bumper on pavements outside churches may not be the image that people associate with the UK’s God- less City. But the weekend’s Easter celebrations are a clear indication that Christianity is alive and kicking in Brighton and Hove. Ministers have told The Argus that it was standing room only in their churches as many came to devotedly mark this most important of Christian festivals. Continue reading here.
“Donkey shortage hits Easter Play” by Matthew Ffrench for the Oxford Mail (16 February, 2013)
The search is on for a crucial member of the cast for Abingdon’s Passion Play. Music teacher Sally Mears, who lives in the town, came up with the idea of staging the musical play based on the Easter story of Jesus’s death. But her dream won’t be properly realised until she finds a donkey to carry teenager Chris Young, who plays Christ.About 100 people are working on the production which will be performed in Abbey Gardens on Palm Sunday, March 24.Three local schools’ choirs are involved, together with the Abbey Brass band and a string quartet. Performers will move from one location to another in the gardens once the free show begins. Continue reading here.
“Amateur performances for Holy Week” by Bess Twiston Davies in The Times
“I’m not religious,” says Ken Cardwell, “but when they put Jesus on the Cross, it got through to me. It was very real.” Cardwell, 73, was one of the 3,000 spectators on the beach at Brighton last Easter to watch the city’s first Passion play. With a 100-strong amateur cast from 14 countries, which included students, an ex-prisoner, a former homeless person and three people with special needs, the Brighton Passion, now in its second year, typifies the trend for community Passion plays…. Continue reading here
“Passion Play on the Beach” for The Argus
Hundreds of people turned out to watch actors recreate the crucifixion of Jesus on Brighton beach. A cast of 90 recreated his death on the cross in the passion play organised by Soul by the Sea – a collection of Brighton and Hove churches. Despite the rain, up to 1,000 people watched the play… Continue reading here
“On this stage Jesus is a Robber; the Devil’s a Rapist” by John Burnett for NPR
There are more than 5,300 inmates at the Lousiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Nearly 4,000 of them are serving life without parole. Last month, the Angola Prison Drama Club staged a ply unlike any other in the prison’s experience. The Life of Jesus Christ featured 70 inmates, men and women acting together for the first time – in costume, with a real camel, performing for the general public. For the untrained actors, this production held special meaning as they saw pieces of their own lives revealed in the characters they played. Continue reading here
“Opinion: Preston Passion – The Power of Community Spirit”: Online Opinion Article about the Live BBC event
The passion of the people was evident, but I wasn’t sure how people would judge reaction to The Passion. During our live blog, we asked non-religious readers what the event meant for them. Most agreed that they were proud to see people from their city, of all ages, religions and races, come together to watch or perform under the national spotlight. As an atheist myself, I respected the importance of the Passion story and it’s place in the religious calendar, but it stood out for me as a demonstration of universal themes – suffering and sacrifice – which hold particular significance for people facing problems in the world today. Continue reading here and visit the BBC website for clips from the Preston Passion.
“Thousands attend Perth Easter Play” in The West Australian
Thousands gathered on St George’s Terrace this afternoon for The Cathedral Drama Unit’s fully-booked performance of Passion of Christ 2012. The grounds of Government House were abuzz with a 3000-strong crowd witnessing the performance telling the story of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Director Tony Howes said it was the first time in many years the Easter story as a play was performed in the heart of the city. “It allows a wonderful preparation for performer and audience alike, as Lent ends and we await the impact that Easter must mean for all throughout Perth, both believer and non-believer.” Continue reading here.
“Rejoice! Jesus is coming to Trafalgar Square – and Brighton and Guildford” by Matthew Cresswell for The Guardian
Being Jesus can really hurt. Of all people, James Burke-Dunsmore should know, having played the world’s most famous Nazarene for the last 14 years. While his open-air Passion plays have been supported by the BBC and funded by wealthy businessmen, there is no guarantee they will run perfectly. One year an amateur actor playing a Roman centurion inadvertently smashed his ankle with a lump hammer when nailing him to the cross. The same year, in -5C conditions, his vocal cords were so cold he had to scream his words to the audience Continue reading here.
Louisiana State Penitentiary: “A Passion Play in Prison: Acting Forgiveness and Redemption” in The Economist
It is painfully hot and dry in the rodeo arena at Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola, the largest maximum security prison in America. Under a blazing sun American flags hang limply around the sand-covered enclosure, where 70 prisoners are acting out a unique version of “The Life of Jesus Christ”. By the time the three ingeniously constructed crosses are raised on a small hill of dirt, the physical torture of a slow death by crucifixion is palpable. This is the first time a passion play has been staged at a state prison Continue reading here.