Preston Passion Play took place in Preston on Good Friday, April 14th, 2017 starting at 11.30.It was a difficult day with heavy rain from 6am till the moment we started at 11.30, temperature 8 degrees but strong wind.
We incorporated drug dealing by Barabbas into the Temple/market scene which was shown in slow motion as the transfer took place. The early conspirators were a councillor and disenchanted cleric who were addressing the public after street disturbances and riots. Barabbas was a leader in this. The play was completely contemporary in dress and language. As we are in Lancashire we used homing pigeons when the tables were overturned, and Jesus made his entrance behind Mary Magdalene on her moped.
Top comment from a church worker: it was like hearing the Gospel for the first time! Twenty two performers were miked up, and the extras ad libbed throughout. The cast numbered 62. Preston Concert Band were 40. The overture was composed for us; some 20 pieces of music were played. The choir (volunteers) were 40+ Film by students from Salford University with equipment from Media City, Manchester.
Full wheelchair access and shelter was provided. Winckley Square Gardens were the venue for the major part of the play. We were the inaugural major event in the Square thus garnering much enthusiasm and great photos. The Way of the Cross was over a mile long! The length of the gardens allowed us to complete the heckling and three falls. We then processed along our main thoroughfare, Church Street which is a shared, paved space. This caught the attention of all shoppers at mid-day on a Bank Holiday.
Finally we staged the crucifixion scene on the Flag Market, the venue for all major public events. This was filled and many extra spectators engaged. Final Scenes were staged on the steps of the Victorian Harris Museum and Art Gallery, another listed building which was the backdrop to the crucifixion. This gave us iconic photos which were taken up by the media.
The Lancashire Post (main Daily) gave us a great press with stunning photos on the front page, an extra cover double and a double page inside. They also live streamed the broadcast and it was watched by 13,500 on the day. Scolling alongside weremany comments: watching from Western Australia, Eastern Australia, Brazil, Winnipeg, Poland, Germany, Spain, from a place of incredulity…….! This is on the Facebook page. They also provided about 80 photos.
BBC Lancashire did us proud, mainly through Joe Wilson, main presenter and cover for many national major events, presenter of Sunday morning faith based breakfast programme. He had already interviewed me and called me on air another 5 times. He attended The last half, interviewed me the moment the play, and played a sequence about 2 minutes on BBC TV news as well as producing an album of extra photographs. The news sequence has 8.3k views.