Diocese of Portsmouth

    Christians stage open-air play about Jesus's life

    27 July 2017

    WORSHIPPERS from churches around Havant will stage a second open-air play about Jesus within two years.

    Churchgoers will stage their play telling the story of Jesus’s life and death, including some of the miracles he performed and some of his most famous stories. It will end with the dramatic events of his crucifixion.

    Entitled Jesus in the Park, it will take place in Havant Park on Saturday 12 August at 12noon and 3pm, and on Sunday 13 August at 3pm. The performance will be free of charge and will feature real animals, including a pony for the Parable of the Good Samaritan, as well as sheep and goats.

    Director James Burke-Dunsmore, who plays Jesus in the acclaimed Life of Christ, held each year on the Wintershall Estate near Guildford, and in the Passion Play staged in Trafalgar Square each Good Friday, is leading rehearsals after writing a brand new script.

    He will play the part of Jesus in all three performances, alongside a cast composed of volunteers from local churches of all denominations.

    The Rev Jonathan Jeffery, vicar of Leigh Park and Warren Park, who is taking part, said: “We all really enjoyed being part of the Havant Passion Play two years ago, and we were very keen to perform again.

    “People these days know less about Jesus’s life than when I was growing up, which means that some of what happens will come as a surprise to those watching. People might not know how radical Jesus’s teaching was, or the plot twists in his parables, or how amazing his miracles were – so we feel sure this will be spell-binding for passers-by.

    “This play is about Jesus’s adult life, so it doesn’t focus on the events of his death and resurrection like our previous Passion Play, but it ends with the drama of the crucifixion and is very moving in places. Apparently, my role is to provide some light relief throughout!

    “We were delighted to work with James again, who directed us two years ago. He is inspiring to work with and brings out some brilliant performances from what is an inexperienced cast of local people.”

    Two years ago, more than 500 people watched two performances of the Havant Passion Play in Havant Park over an August weekend. It featured James Burke-Dunsmore as Jesus, and for many of the churchgoers in the cast, it was their first experience of acting. Crowds of passers-by were captivated by its large cast, authentic costumes and real animals. (Click here for photos and here for a video of highlights)

    The group which is fully ecumenical, has continued to meet under the guidance of Jacky Chong from St Thomas’s Roman Catholic Church in Emsworth and to fundraise throughout the past two years. For details, see www.havantpassionplay.co.uk