This Passion Play is not being performed in 2017. Please visit again for further information.
The Chichester Passion Play was performed in 2006 and 2007. The following is a record of that event by producer and director Peter Green:
Due mainly to the very moving performance of James Theodosius as Jesus, I am sure that this scene will remain for all who were fortunate to see it something which will stay with them for a very long time. Never have I seen a more moving and utterly convincing portrayal of the last earthly and human dying moments of our Lord. There wasn’t a whisper from the large crowd who all seemed like me utterly engulfed with the agony of the moment. One could really empathise with Jesus as he summoned all his last strength to exclaim ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani’ when he questioned why he had been forsaken and then died with the assuring words that ‘Father’s into your hands I commit my spirit’.
As the body of Jesus was taken into the Cathedral, the crowd followed entering by the West door for the mid-day Good Friday Service. Quickly the cathedral filled to overflowing – soon there were not enough seats, then there were not enough service sheets and finally there were not even enough nails that were being handed out as we entered the cathedral. The nails intrigued me – we were told that at a point in the service we would be invited to go up to the cross in front of the Arundel screen and place our nail there. Now I have to confess that the ‘veneration of the cross’ has always given me a few problems, but the symbolic placing of a nail seemed so natural. Prior to the nail laying there was a most moving meditation with the Taize response ‘Jesus remember me..’ when several very accomplished young readers spoke about nails – how they were a reminder of the sacrifice our Lord made, the cold metal the reminder of our cold hearts, the sharpness a reminder of our sharp words, the metal the reminder of the coins paid as a reward for the betrayal, the nail the symbol of violence, physical pain but also the material our Lord used to make things as a carpenter.
There we were actors still in costume, and audience alike packing the Cathedral and slowly but surely flowing down the central aisle to place our own nail in front of the cross.
Forgive the pun, but this whole Good Friday morning experience nailed for me the whole point of Good Friday – how important it is that we should remind ourselves about the agony endured by our Lord for our sake, and give thanks for the ultimate sacrifice he made. It was not lost on me either how effective street theatre can be to help focus on this and that the combined act of street theatre/ church service can be very effective outreach-based ministry – by delivering our message in the streets and finishing in a place of worship we can engage and involve so many more people.
Many thanks to John Ashwin for all his efforts on a wonderful piece of street theatre that used the old Chichester streets, gardens and buildings very effectively, the production team, the cast of ‘Jesus’, the choir and last but not least Chichester Cathedral for making this a Good Friday to reflect and act on for a very long time.