A mix of professional actors together with adults and children performed the Duddingston Kirk Passion Play. They were drawn from local church and community groups. This promenade production took place on Easter Sunday, 1st April at 2pm at Duddingston Kirk, Edinburgh. The audience followed the actors from the initial ‘Last Supper’ opening scene to the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. On to meet Pontius Pilate then, as Jesus took up his Cross. Then the Passion Play left the Church grounds, for the streets of Duddingston Village. They enacted several scenes in the streets of the village. The audience then returned to be met by the moving sight of the crucifixion. In another area of the garden the audience met the angel and women at the tomb. Tis was before a spectacular loch-side resurrection scene.
Twenty-four professional actors and musicians performed this promenade play. Together with adults and children from local churches and community groups. The minister of Duddingston Kirk acted as narrator for the performance. As did the local Roman Catholic priest and the rector of the local Scottish Episcopal Church.
Scenes from the Passion Play
We opened with ‘The Last Supper’ then a group of children were heard approaching. Jesus made his way to them and we heard the beatitudes. Some soldiers then came into the midst of the crowd and started hammering a cross together. The audience made its way to the Garden of Gethsemane where we found Jesus with his disciples. We heard a very moving speech from Judas after the arrest of Jesus. The audience moved on to meet Pontius Pilate. Then, as Jesus took up his Cross, we left the Church grounds, into the streets of Duddingston Village.
As said, several scenes were enacted in the streets of the village. These included a very funny interaction between the soldier who had “won” Jesus cloak, and his wife who found the whole idea horrific. Along the route, we met Simon of Cyrene who carried Jesus Cross. The audience eventually returned to the Church garden where they encountered the moving sight of the crucifixion. A further area of the garden is where we met the angel and women at the tomb before a spectacular loch-side resurrection scene.
Although the day of the performance was dry, the previous day and the following day saw snow in Edinburgh. The audience numbered only around 150 which was disappointing, but we expect that the weather was a major contributing factor in this. We had sent information to every Church in Edinburgh and flyered 2500 households in the area as well as advertising through social media.
The numbers attending the Duddingston Kirk Passion Play were small. But we saw that the production had visibly moved the audience. An elderly lady struggled round the whole route with her walking aid. She phoned the minister that evening to declare it was the best Easter she had ever had. In the programme, the director has written,“If only one person is moved by this piece of theatre at Easter then the whole experience will have been worthwhile.” By this measure, it was certainly worthwhile!