What is a Passion Play?

Actors portraying Jesus and two others are hung on a cross. Photo set against the West Pier on Brighton seafront during a Passion Play that took place at Easter in 2011

A Passion Play is a free performance of the Easter story. ‘The greatest story ever told’ is brought to life in large, outdoor performances for people of all ages.

A Passion Play dramatises the events of the last week of Jesus’ life, depicting the events that led up to his crucifixion. Many Passion Plays today also featuring a dramatic portrayal of Jesus’ life. This includes his teachings and miracles, and his resurrection to show the context in which his death took place.

Passion Plays use theatre to bring the words of the Gospel to life in new, often vivid and startling, ways. They show how the message of second chances, forgiveness and new opportunities. Large community casts are a vital part of these performances which have the potential to speak life and hope into communities struggling with poverty, crime, addiction or hopelessness and boredom.

A Passion Play is a dramatic portrayal of the real story of Easter as told in the Bible. It has all the elements of stories that are compelling and confronting: treachery, betrayal, injustice, sacrifice, redemption and a startling ending. As Passion Plays dramatize the story of Easter, they allow it to speak again to new audiences in new contexts.

What do people say about Passion Plays?

Blown away. You guys always put on a good show- but this? This was something else. Haven’t stopped taking about it since Tuesday. My children got so much out of it too. Loved that not only did you perform on the streets of the city centre, but that you actually SET it in Birmingham, using local landmarks. Alan, Birmingham

I found the whole experience exciting, emotional and spiritually uplifting and compelling – it’s created a wonderful memory of working with a great group of people and a great enterprise that will endure for a long time. Anon, Carlisle

Managed to follow the whole play with 2 children (6 and 10) so powerful and engaging. We were on the second performance at the cathedral – worth the wait as we couldn’t get in as it was full. Children truly enjoyed and message was so clear presented. Great to have the Contemporary touch!  Cassandra, Birmingham

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.  www.bristol.anglican.org/documents/diocesan-funding-guide/
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 young woman with blonde hair and a red top stands in the middle of a room with a script in her hands ready to speak.

Rehearsals: the power behind a Passion Play

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]How do professional directors and actors work with large volunteer...

A man wearing a knitted cap watches a Passion play, wondering what he can expect.

Passion Plays and faith communities

Does Government ‘do’ God?: An independent review into how government...