Staging Gethsemane

A woman with a fierce expression on her face holds a sword above her head, ready to strike the person in front of her.

Simon Carter played Jesus in the Nottingham Passion Play last Easter. Listen to him explaining how they rehearsed this scene in the video above and read more about it in his blog posts here.

You don’t need to have been Jesus, kneeling in a garden, crying his eyes out, pouring his heart out, to know about abandonment, and to show to an audience what abandonment looks like. I’ve known how it’s been to feel abandoned in my life. How about you? I’ve known how it’s felt to not want to have to endure something, to not want to go through an ordeal. How about you? I’ve known how it’s felt to want something stark, painful and terrifying taken away from me. I’ve known how it’s felt to not understand the reason why I must do the something stark, painful and terrifying. How about you?

You don’t have to believe that Jesus was the son of God to believe that Jesus knew about human suffering. It’s beyond doubt that Jesus experienced human suffering himself. He’s been where we’ve been, felt what we’ve felt. So much more besides.

Gethsemane is human suffering writ large, and the abandonment that Jesus feels is the worst abandonment of all. To feel, in his agony, that God is absent. To feel utterly alone in the universe. I think that many of us will have felt this way in our darkest times. Such a desperate speech.

It seems to me that the themes touched on in the Gethsemane scene (and indeed across the whole play) are so universal as to be relatable to everyone, wherever we stand spiritually.

As James says in the Left Lion article: ‘whether people believe or not, the story touches on a profoundly emotional, spiritual level … the themes of sacrifice, love, betrayal, and desperation – it has it all.’

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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