Diocese of Portsmouth

    Actors give farm visitors taste of the Nativity

    20 Dec. 2021

    ACTORS from local churches and the community are giving families a taste of the Nativity story, as they perform alongside real animals.

    Some of the team who have produced Havant Passion Plays are staging short versions of the story of Jesus's birth for visitors to Staunton Country Park in the few days leading up to Christmas.

    The nine performances spread over five days include the innkeeper and his wife, a Roman soldier, the Archangel Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, shepherds and wise men. They are acting around the manger, inside a barn alongside sheep and goats from the farm. Visitors to the park gather around, in the courtyard outside the barn, to watch the story unfold.  

    The 15-minute performances have taken place daily from December 18, and will include performances at 11.30am and 1pm on both Tuesday 21 December and Wednesday 22 December.

    Director Carolyn Owens said: "We have costumes and experience from the Passion Plays that we have done every couple of summers in Havant, so we approached Staunton Country Park to see if they would like us to write and stage something on the Nativity. They were keen - it certainly adds extra value for families when they visit.

    "The cast list has slightly changed each day, depending on who is available. But these actors are now veterans of various Passion Plays and other projects we've done, and are very adaptable."

    The vicar of Leigh Park, the Rev Jonathan Jeffery, plays the innkeeper and Ingrid Corrigan plays his wife. They gather together families in the courtyard ahead of the performance, with children encouraged to sit at the front. After the short performance, those children can have their photos taken with the Nativity scene.

    The Havant Passion Play team staged full-length, open-air plays about Jesus's life, death and resurrection in Havant Park in the summers of 20152017 and 2019. In 2020, they recorded 26 separate dramatic monologues, each from a different character in the Nativity story. Every morning during December, a new video was unveiled online in their â€˜Living Advent Calendar’. They recorded similar video monologues in the run-up to Easter 2021. For details, see: www.havantpassionplay.org.uk.

    The Rev Jonathan Jeffery as the innkeeper and Ingrid Corrigan as his wife talk to families in the courtyard
    Phoebe Jeffery as Mary cradles the baby Jesus
    The Nativity tableau is complete

    St Francis Church, Leigh Park

    Riders Lane, Leigh Park, Leigh Park, PO9 4QJ

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