Cast the First Stone: the Passion in Prison

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Did you know one of our trustees was director for the Passion Play in Louisiana State Penitentiary? It was a remarkable play by the prisoners in one of the biggest prisons in the USA. Most people there are prisoners for life. The performance was made into a film called ‘Cast the First Stone’ where scenes from the play were filmed alongside scenes from the prison.

Want to watch the full film? Click here to download Viewing Agreement

These are some testimonies written by the men and women who were involved in the play, which the Cast the First Stone film documented. (All names of the writers have been removed for legal and safety reasons.)

At first it was like, I don’t want to be in the play because it was too many offenders and it felt like

Several men acting in a prison passion play in Louisiana State Penitentiary are tied to crosses or stand near them, set in a US prison exercise yard.they was just playing with God. So that’s why I really didn’t want to be a part of it. But as I tried to get closer to God, I wanted to know wh

o Jesus really was. So now that I’m in the play it’s a big eye opener to me. At first I didn’t understand what or who Jesus really was. But by me reading my Bible and watching Bobby playing the character of Jesus, it opened up my eyes. And now I really understand who Jesus really is.


I’ve dealt with my demons. The life of Christ is more than just a play to me, it has become an important part

A person with a red scarf around their head sits on the ground. A man kneels to comfort them in a scene from a prison passion play. All wear white middle eastern style clothes. In the background a group of actors stand and look on.  of my life. The cast, directors, producers and Wardens who all came together for this to happen  also. I can look back on this and say that was me out there letting God use me to bring someone to Him and to glorify Him. It helped me not to be ashamed of myself and to show my family that I have matured and accomplished something during my time away from them. Letting them and others see there is good and change in me. My character as a female devil has opened my eyes to a lot about myself which I know needed to be worked on before I ever got in this play. I used to let demonic forces take over in my life until I learned a better way to deal with them. I am in my 13th year of a 30 year sentence for manslaughter. There is so much to be thankful for and I am thankful to have shared in this production for all. Continued blessings Miss Suzanne.


I relate to my character in so many ways. I also lost my oldest brother which resulted in a life full of depressi

A man stands together with a woman holding a baby, they look off-camera in a scene from a prison passion play in Louisiana State Penitentiary and Cast the First stone film. All dressed in white middle eastern clothes.on and drug use. I turned to everything but God to relieve the pain which resulted in me coming to prison. Coming to prison has changed my

life and I realized I am not a bad person, I am worth something. Life is full of pain, it is unavoidable. But we have to realize God is there through it all. Being a part of this play is an honor on so many levels for me. I never would have thought being in prison I would be given this opportunity to show a talent I never knew I had. It makes me wonder how much more God has in store for m. I know if I continue to do right in front of God and men and women in authority, God will continue to bless my life. I know now “nothing is impossible with God”. Thank you.



I have never thought my feelings would differ being I’ve been a part of this since we stared in 2012. Each time we worked harder and harder, had more fun, made new friends. Supper grew largely each time. But this time, I was minTwo men dressed in white carry a large wooden cross through a walkway in Louisiana State Penitentiary as part of a passion play .dful to stay “God conscious”. After 2012 show, I lost conscious and that had me to make one bad decision that I’m still finding myself cleaning up today [he was locked up for drugs after 2012 production]. This show gives me the chance to show the world that “the closer you get to God, the bigger target you become for Satan”. When we stay God conscious, the devil has no entrance into your life. All the good happens during the show or leading up to it, all being done for the glorification of God. Afterwards the devil will come, we have to be mindful to stay God conscious and never lose focus on God, pray, study and be a God fearing, God conscious warrior. Know that you are going to go through some things, that you are going to be tested. Stand firm, be accountable and know that you are being held accountable.


I am an actor in the Life of Jesus play. Playing the part of Simeon and the old couple. I’m going to share on how did this play affect A black and white photograph of an actor in costume including a cloak, holding a sword. He looks to, and I hope it will be a blessing to those whoever may read it. I would like to thank our Warden for believing in us that we can do it. Also I would like to thank Miss Suzanne for her wisdom and kindness in coming to help us perform this play. Thanks to the governor and his colleagues who put hard work with us to get us prepared. This play really gave me an opportunity to examine every scene that was performed by men and women who are incarcerated, giving us a chance to prove that we deserve a chance to be back in society. I thank all of the Wardens who stuck with us, all security who watch us and believe in us that we can do this play. Thanks to all the men who built everything we needed – and made the customs for us. Thanks to all who came out to see us perform this play, that they had a blessed time. Thanks to God for helping us become the first ever inmates to do this play. Yes, we made history.


The play was an opportunity for me to change my life and to let go of the heavy burdens I’ve been carrying around. I came to jail when I was 41 A group of actors in a passion play scene at Louisiana State Penitentiary. Jesus lies on the floor, comforted by his mother Mary. John is with them. They are in colourful costume.years old, my charge was second degree murder whi ch carries a life sentence without parole. I’ve been down 13 years now and I’m 54 years old. I have 3 beautiful children who are all grown now, 7 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. I’ve never seen any of the grandbabies or great grandchild. My youngest son was 17 years old when I left and he is now 31. I haven’t seen him since I came to jail. My oldest is a girl and I haven’t seen her either.

My youngest that is 31 years old is out there on drugs and alcohol real bad – living on the streets. I could never forgive myself for taking someone’s life. Doing this play brought out so many emotions in me.

This play has helped me come to terms with what I’ve done and finally forgive myself. There were a lot of struggles along the way in doing this play. But there is some of us who have deepened our walk with God and finally come out of the darkness we’ve been in for so long.

When we’re on the rodeo grounds and actually going through Jesus’ life, teachings, miracles, beatings and crucifixion, I can feel how much God loves me and I see and feel the love Jesus has for us and the price he paid for our sins. My life will never be the same now. I get up every morning, put my hand in Jesus’ hand and he walks through the day with me. He is my strength.

I can go home, be a good mother to my children, a good grandmother and know that through all I’ve experienced in this play, I am now someone who my children and family can be proud of. It’s made me search within myself and work on the things that are a hindrance in my life. Thank you so very much because of you – many lives were changed. I hope to continue in this play till either I go home or till there is no more. Thank you for believing in us and for this wonderful opportunity.

Is fundraising like online dating?

Online dating is trying to find the right match among many differnet people. Fundraising for Passion Plays is similar to online dating in one respect: trying to find the right match for your Play among different trusts and funding charities. Finding this perfect match is the key to raising funds to tell the Easter story!

Once you find trusts and funders who are of a similar mindset and value the things you value, you are well on the way to a perfect match.


How do we find potential funders?

The Charity Commission’s Register of Charities allows you to search for free by using filters to narrow your search. (Remember, Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate registers.)
Funding Central is another register that is free to access.
For a more expensive option, you can try the Directory of Social Change’s Funds Online website which is regularly updated.
Since Passion Plays bring many churches of all denominations together, your diocese can be a good source of information and signposting. For example, see the Diocese of Bristol and their list of funders here.
The Christian Funders’ Forum is also a useful source.


How do we let funders know our project is a good match for them?

Now is the time to do some research and really think about compatibility with the funders you are researching.

You can research their online content, websites, and also Further information will be inread through their annual reports published on the Charity Commissions website (click ‘Documents’ tab). These annual reports will give useful imformation about projects they have previously funded.

A quick phone call can also be helpful in establishing contact and goodwill as you will be able to find out more about them and let them know what you do.

Remember here that one of the key elements is timing! Some funders have a set application process that requires you to apply before a deadline. Other funders have trustees’ meetings at set times during the year and those times are good to work with.

The timing of your project also matters. Some funders like to fund projects in the early stage of development, while others like to give funding when they see other funders have already contributed.

There is a lot to think about with fundraising! But Passion Plays are such unique projects that it can also be an enjoyable process. Many funders like to hear about large community arts events that tell the Easter story in fresh and inspiring ways. Not only do Passion Plays have large outdoor audiences across the UK each Easter, they are also unique spaces of community, skill-sharing, mentoring and investing in the lives of volunteers across all sections of society. They are more than a one-off performance and the impact spreads across the whole community for many months.


Where can I find more help with fundraising?

If you want more help with fundraising, we have plenty more tips and advice on our website here.

We have recorded sessions from previous Passion Trust Conferences including sessions looking at Finance & Fundraising, Administration and Practical Considerations, and Q&A sessions. You can see more information and watch short helpful videos on our website here.

You can also find lots of helpful tips and advice at The Benefact Trust here or click on the image below.

three bullet points with rows of text and images in blue bubbles with white icons for help with fundraising


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