Reedham’s Pas­sion

There is a green hill not so far away, where dra­matic scenes are planned for Good Fri­day,

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - writes ROWAN MANTELL

Vil­lage bands to­gether for play about the cru­ci­fix­ion of Je­sus

A crowd gath­ers; the hol­i­day chat­ter turns to ex­cite­ment, cel­e­bra­tion, shout­ing, con­dem­na­tion; a man stum­bles through the streets car­ry­ing a heavy wooden cross. In the Broad­land vil­lage of Reedham scenes which first played out al­most 2,000 years ago, and more than 2,000 miles away, will be re-en­acted on Fri­day, April 14.

The Easter Pas­sion play will be per­formed as part of a two-mile pil­grim­age walk through the vil­lage, be­gin­ning as Je­sus ap­proaches Jerusalem, or the vil­lage pri­mary school, and end­ing with the Cru­ci­fix­ion, staged in the farm­yard at Ferry Farm. The vil­lagers will join in the joy of Palm Sun­day as Je­sus passes through the Golden Gate of Jerusalem and into the school play­ground, to shouts, fan­fares and song. Then the mood will darken with the ar­rest in the gar­den of Geth­se­mane (or a gar­den in The Hills, Reedham), and the trial of Christ, in drive­ways on Sta­tion Road.

More than 100 peo­ple have been in­volved in cre­at­ing the drama over the past year, with a cast of 50, plus mu­si­cians, cos­tume mak­ers, set builders and more, from Reedham and the other seven parishes of the Acle and Yare to Bure benefice.

“We think it’s im­por­tant to be an in­clu­sive group and church goers and peo­ple of any faith or none have al­ways been equally wel­come,” says Diana Gilder, who is or­gan­is­ing the event along­side as­so­ciate priest Lorna Al­lies, who also lives in the vil­lage.

The script was writ­ten by Peter Al­lies, and the per­for­mance is di­rected by Si­mon Ash. An­other vil­lager, for­mer Nor­wich Cathe­dral or­gan­ist and choir mas­ter Michael Ni­cholas, is mu­si­cal di­rec­tor. Char­ac­ters in­clude Je­sus him­self, played by John Mules, who re­cently re­tired from the Royal Navy, plus dis­ci­ples, sol­diers, Ca­iaphas and the high priests, Pi­late, a serv­ing maid, two thieves, Je­sus’ mother Mary, and crowd scenes with chil­dren from the vil­lage pri­mary school.

The ac­tion is spread over five sites through the vil­lage,

and for part of the route a spe­cially-made cross will be car­ried, first by Je­sus, and then by Si­mon of Cyrene.

The drama ends with the Cru­ci­fix­ion scene at around 3pm on Good Fri­day – the time Chris­tians across the coun­try will be com­mem­o­rat­ing the death of Christ.

“It has been a chal­lenge in many ways,” says Diana. “The lo­gis­tics of mov­ing large num­bers of peo­ple around pub­lic roads, the un­cer­tainty of au­di­ence num­bers, plan­ning for the va­garies of the Bri­tish weather, the re­cruit­ment and or­gan­i­sa­tion of work­forces and per­form­ers, the se­cur­ing of sites to per­form in, one re­hearsal dur­ing a power cut, not to men­tion the health and safety is­sues in­volved in ‘cru­ci­fy­ing’ some­one!”

The one-off per­for­mance is the cul­mi­na­tion of a year’s work, bring­ing more than 100 peo­ple to­gether for a jour­ney of friend­ship, faith and wit­ness.

There are no plans to make it a reg­u­lar event or turn Reedham into the Ober­am­mer­gau of East Anglia, says Diana, but she adds: “What­ever hap­pens on the day, Lorna and I do not doubt that this act of Chris­tian wit­ness, that we en­vis­aged so many months ago, is ab­so­lutely worth do­ing. We hope to pro­duce a mem­o­rable and mov­ing event.”Š

nor­folk­mag.co.uk

Je­sus, played by John Mules, car­ries the cross in the Reedham Pas­sion Play

Re­hearsals for the Reedham Pas­sion Play Je­sus and the Ro­man sol­diers

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