“Resurrection!” was performed in Hamilton town centre at 2pm on Saturday 31st March and an excerpt was performed in Strathclyde Country Park on Saturday 14th April at 2pm by Passion Play Lanarkshire. Characters from the play also performed monologues during nightly church services at 7.30pm 26th – 30th March. Monologues were uploaded to YouTube. Finally, we have been asked to perform three excerpts of the play at Heart and Soul, an event celebrating the life of the church in Princes Street Gardens on Sunday 20th May.  Audience for main performance was around 1000 (despite the snow and extreme cold), services around 200, Strathclyde Park 300 and monologue views on YouTube varied from 73 – 295.

A core cast of 52 were drawn from ten local churches and each of these churches supplied stewards and crew. Nicholas Elliott, a professional actor, played the role of Jesus for the first time. He was very dedicated in exploring the role in depth. A trained actor, David Edment, played Judas as he had done in 2017.

The production was produced and directed by a trained actor and experienced theatre company manager, a former police officer was head of stewarding and a trained sound engineer ran our sound desk. A time-served Carpenter turned Minister added to the set he had built in 2017 as required.  The play was adapted from an Edinburgh Easter Play script by Kamala Jane Santos, who continued to support how we translated her work for our new setting.

Many others were involved in the production team, technical crew, stewarding, administration, marketing, provision of refreshments and prayer support. Many of those involved had little or no previous experience of such an enterprise. The ages of those involved ranged from 4 to 81.

This year’s cast included a greater number of people who are not actively part of a faith community. Feedback from them on their involvement has been very positive, as they got to know the Easter story better and understand its significance.

The support from the Jerusalem Trust was used to ensure the quality of the production. Significant expenditure included our professional actor, additional sound equipment and a very visual marketing campaign with the support of all town centre churches and our local Business Improvement District. This provided the first cohesive marketing material for Holy Week, based around the Pasion Play. A significant step forward in displaying Christian unity.

We used Facebook, twitter, local press and radio to attract participants, promote the Play and this continues in our follow up and outreach activities. This included putting the monologues on YouTube each night, our series of “talking heads”. We utilised survey monkey for the first time this year and a summary of the evaluation is attached. Please note the range of positive comments from the audience including “Taking the bible to people, rather than waiting for them to come to church”.

Our local weekly newspaper, the Hamilton Advertiser, once again supported us with excellent coverage, a link to the post-show article is attached. They also promoted the follow-on work in Strathclyde Park with a feature. An article was featured in the Motherwell Times/Bellshill Speaker. The Church of Scotland ran a fantastic online article, “Lanarkshire town to stage the Easter story on an epic scale”. Local commercial radio, Radio Clyde interviewed “Jesus” which was aired throughout the day on Easter Saturday and local Christian radio, Revival FM, also ran a feature.

The local Council lent us a vacant restaurant unit at our location for the last ten days before performance which enabled us to store props and costume onsite, provided ready access to toilet and catering facilities for the cast and crew and was also our main source of power. The Provost was in attendance and tweeted out his appreciation, following this up with a formal letter (attached).

Our Business Improvement District paid for billboards around the town centre, advertising the production (approx. 100 x 70cm) and gave guidance and advice. Subway provided bread to feed the five thousand and for the last supper table. Asda provided free hot drinks and secure storage for sound equipment.

We would not have been able to achieve the professional production values without the funding from The Passion Trust. Thank you for supporting us to make such a positive Christian impact in our local community.  Our total budget was just over £10,000, of which we received £3,000 from Westhill Church, £2,600 from the Passion Trust, £1,000 from the Souter Trust, £1,000 from Tunnocks and £1,000 from the Novum Trust, as well as a range of fundraising activities.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/PassionPlayLanarkshire/

Testimonials: (What did you enjoy the most?):

‘The atmosphere with the whole town joining in. The enthusiasm of those taking part! A proper outreach of the Easter story’

‘The quality of the acting and production, and that the play was brought out into the open of a town centre was amazing.’

‘Local people were involved. Brings the story alive and reaches people who wouldn’t attend church.’

‘The boldness of staging the play outside and the closeness of players with the audience.’

‘I loved that it was performed on the street. It was amazing, made me very emotional.’

‘Clearly lots of effort went into doing this. The actor playing Jesus was great and it was good to hear this story in local accents. It made the story come alive seeing it acted…A wee surprise for people coming home from the retail part with their shopping but some did stop to watch.’

‘Thank you for inviting Mary and I to the Hamilton Passion Play ‘Resurrection!’ in Hamilton on Saturday afternoon, it was wonderful and thought provoking the perfect way to celebrate the Holy weekend. I have attached a photograph I took which (deliberately I am sure) evokes Vinci’s Last Supper. Thank you once again.’

Provost Ian McAllan, South Lanarkshire Council