Staging the crucifixion

A stone image of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Staging the crucifixion is a topic that comes up time and time again and there are many different answers to the question ‘How do we stage the central event of the Passion?’

From health and safety concerns, to questions about stage blood, or explorations of more stylised approaches, staging the crucifixion has a range of interpretations from many different Easter performances.

Read our blog below for some reflections on staging the crucifixion from Simon Carter, who played Jesus in the Nottingham Passion last Easter.


Behind the Scenes to staging the crucifixion

Simon lets us into a backstage secret: “I’m wearing shoes and not sandals for the production.”

“After I’m crucified, I need to exit the church at one end and then quickly peg it round the outside of the church and come in at the other end so I don’t miss my cue for my scene with the wonderful Rachel Fisken (Mary Magdalene) in which I reveal I’ve been resurrected. This gives me an ideal health and safety excuse for wearing shoes and not sandals because any eejit knows you can’t sprint in sandals.”

Find out more insights and tips about staging the crucifixion at the video and notes below.


Theological considerations with staging the crucifixion in Easter Plays

The mental and spiritual agony endured by Jesus in Gethsemane leads, inevitably, to the punishing physical agony of his trials at the hands of the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate and, ultimately, his crucifixion. While the stylised nature of our production doesn’t show in graphic detail the torment and torture that Jesus undergoes, it doesn’t shy away from communicating the stark brutality of the suffering he endures. It’s so desperately sad to see what this innocent man is made to go through. It’s raw, it’s horrifying, and it’s upsetting.

It’s not the purpose of this series to dwell on the complex theology of what the cross represents, and the power of what this man strove to achieve for humanity on Calvary Hill on that longest and darkest of nights some two thousand years ago. The purpose is to try to imagine the events of Passion Week from the perspective of Jesus and communicate what it’s like to try to bring that over in performance.

Whether you believe Jesus to have been the son of God, or merely a man, there is little doubt that Jesus had a profound and compelling reason for doing what he did. Jesus appears to have made a deliberate decision to die for everyone, irrespective of how we feel about that and whether or not we wanted him to. His was an act not only of astonishing compassion but wilful substitution.

In simple theological terms, the core message of the gospel is that Jesus takes on accountability for the garbage and mess of all humanity, on humanity’s behalf, so that things are made right between people and God.


Explore more

On our website, you can find out more about staging the crucifixion in Easter Plays. Each live, outdoor performance has its own way of staging the crucifixion.

You can find a demonstration of different ways to stage a crucifixion presented by Roman Centurians from a historical enactment society. They designed and built their own cross to safely raise and lower Jesus and the two thieves.

You can also find a demonstration of the practical staging and special effects from the Hornchurch Passion Play here.

You can also listen to our trustee James Burke-Dunsmore discussing how to be crucified over 150 times and still go back for more.

Visit our website here for more details. 


A stone image of Jesus Christ on the cross.

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


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

Staging Gethsemane

[embed][/embed] Simon Carter played Jesus in the Nottingham Passion Play...

Two men stand together holding the pages of a script in a rehearsal of a passion play.

Staging the Last Supper

[embed][/embed] Simon Carter, who played Jesus in the Nottingham Passion...