What is it like being part of a Passion Play?

Passion Play rehearsal in a church with a woman clasping her hands in front of her and learning forward.

Hundreds of people are involved in Passion Plays around the UK. Whether it is acting, making costumes, singing, working with sound technicians, or making endless cups of tea, there is a place for everyone! Whatever your skill set or prior experience, there is a chance for everyone to invest their talents and also develop new ones!

What is it like acting in a Passion Play? Let’s hear from some volunteers below.


Bill’s story

I had been involved with amateur dramatic groups before and I was quite interested in that. Then I heard about a Passion Play near where I live. I was looking for something to do and had quite a bit of time on my hands, so I decided to get involved.

The best thing about the Passion Play is that we have a professional actor playing Jesus and a professional director, so it is not amateurish at all. We also have a professional sound system and lots of people say it’s just marvelous because you can hear everything that is being said.

For many people, the plays are good because they go to church and hear snippets of the Bible stories, but seeing the play brings the whole story to life.


Jill’s story

The Passion Play really helped me because I was going through a lot of grief after my daughter died. I decided to get involved in the play the following year and it was something I never expected would help me so much. We all have pain and suffering and life isn’t easy, whether it’s a death or the challenges and doubts and fears of our every day life. You have to place your faith and trust in something.

Not everybody believes in Jesus but maybe they’ve got something else that they believe in, and the Passion Play helped me to focus on what I believed in. That there is this pain and suffering and there’s trouble around but you know it’s not the be-all and end-all and there is something more to it at the end, which is far more satisfying.


John’s story

We’re all a community, the human race is a community, it’s how we can relate that community spirit with others around us. After seeing the play, many people say they want to be involved in one way or another and join in because I think they can sense the community and heart of the cast. There is a community spirit and everyone is together following the story.

When you face all the challenges of a Passion Play together, you really become friends! Being outdoors, facing the elements with the wind and the rain is quite an experience. It can be very cold when Easter falls at the end of March! And working with a professional director and some of the actors who are also professionals, they are great in the way they work with amateur groups and bring out the best in people.


Simon’s story

Being in a Passion Play is very rewarding, you get to work with some incredible actors and some wonderful people. I don’t go to church but I learn so much about the Bible. Instead of sitting down reading the stories, we work with scripts and rehearsals and get to know the characters and events in so much detail.

We have discussions about the way we’re playing a character or the wording we are using and how we should be doing it, and that’s very helpful in understanding the story. Rather than sitting down reading it in the Bible, we are working together with a script and that makes a big difference!

I have been one of the disciples and one of the Roman soldiers, and it really is a journey of understanding. Every time I’m involved, I learn so much. I get so much out of it


Susannah’s story

I used to do amateur dramatics and amateur operatics and I enjoy acting, so I got involved. At school growing up and then at church you hear lots of little stories, but I never really put them into context with each other. But in the Pasion Play, it does all flow and you really begin to understand the whole story of Christ’s life. Now when I’m in church and hear a reading, I can see it being acted out the way we did it in the play. It’s very nice to be able to picture what it may have been like. It feels much more like the way people would interact, shouting and laughing and you think actually that’s much more realistic instead of sitting down reading stories from the Bible.


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


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