Easter story to be told on the streets of Havant

by the Rev Jonathan Jeffery, vicar, Leigh Park and Warren Park
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With such a wet February, most people are still looking for the signs of Spring. You may have an early thought about Mothering Sunday, but Easter seems a long way off. Even in our churches we are marking Lent as a season of self-reflection, rather than getting too thoughtful about our celebrations at Easter.

However, for several weeks now the story of Easter and the events of the last week of Jesus’ life have been on my mind, as I am one of the actors preparing for the Havant Passion Play 2024. It will be performed over the Easter weekend in Havant town centre.

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I’ve helped to fundraise and commission our script. I’ve encouraged others to get involved as cast or back stage. I was also involved in workshops with our professional director, James Burke-Dunsmore, thinking about how we can tell this amazing story in a compelling and engaging way. James has over 30 years experience of Passion Plays and was Jesus in the Trafalgar Square performances on Good Friday for many years.

The Rev Jonathan JefferyThe Rev Jonathan Jeffery
The Rev Jonathan Jeffery

Over 30 local people will act in the play, telling the story from Jesus arriving in Jerusalem on a donkey, through the events of the Last Supper to his arrest and trial. The climax of the Havant Passion will come as Jesus is crucified, dies and is buried. Our Passion Play ends with the Risen Jesus greeting his friends.

We have a professional actor - Neil Maddock - playing Jesus and it is thrilling to see him and James at work. The story is told in a way that we hope will grab our audience and draw them in. This is important as we’re performing it as street theatre in Havant’s West Street – on a makeshift stage between the Meridian Centre and St Faith’s Church. There is a space for an audience, but I hope that Easter shoppers will stop and witness the message of our 30-minute play.

The Havant Passion will be performed in West Street, Havant on Saturday 30th March at 11am, 12.30pm and 2pm with a further performance on Easter Day (31st March) at 3.30pm. It is free and will go ahead whatever the weather.

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Although it feels strange thinking so much about the Easter story this early, and in Lent too, I’m excited by the prospect of our Havant Passion and hope that local people will want to engage with both the story and the performances. So Happy Easter in advance!

HAVANT PASSION PLAYwww.havantpassionplay.org.uk

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