Staging the crucifixion
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.
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 listen to our trustee James Burke-Dunsmore discussing how to be crucified over 150 times and still go back for more.