Easter Play becomes Edinburgh Passion

Jan 23 2020 | By More

Easter story to be told in 63 hour epic

The Princes Street Easter Play is to be expanded this year into a city-wide community play, The Edinburgh Passion, with different groups telling the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection in real time across the city.

The story will start with The Last Supper in a homeless project in Leith at 6pm on Maundy Thursday, 9 April, and conclude on Easter Sunday with Jesus’ appearance to his disciples, at Duddingston Loch at 7am, and then his Last Commission, taking place at Easter Road stadium at 8am on Sunday 12 April 2020.

A scene from the Edinburgh Easter Play in 2017

The Princes Street Gardens element of the annual event is being retained, with the Easter Play Trust staging The Darkest Day, a new version of the traditional Easter Play, in the Gardens on Easter Saturday 11 April at 2pm with the only two hour segment of the story.

Theatre companies, artists and community groups from all over the city are taking responsibility for different hour-long segments of the story, bringing them to life using theatre, music and dance.

The whole event is being supported by theatre practitioners such as Jo Rush, who is leading writing workshops at the Traverse, and Jeremy Weller of the Grassmarket Project who is working as a creative associate on the project.


Jeremy Weller, said: “The idea of a passion play has always interested me, what a modern passion could be like, and the notion of how important a passion play could be to the citizens of Edinburgh.

“I think there is a feeling that Edinburgh is being taken over by the Festival and as a tourist destination. This project, like most of mine with the Grassmarket Project, will attempt to include Edinburgh voices that aren’t usually heard.

“There is nothing more relevant than the community taking power and expressing what they are experiencing, especially if these people are normally marginalised.”

Mike Frew, chairman of the Princes Street Easter Play Trust, the organisation behind the annual Easter Play in Princes Street Gardens, said the group was excited to be working with a new script, Saturday, which fits into the Edinburgh Passion’s real-time framework.

He said: “We’re telling the Saturday afternoon part of the story, when Jesus is in the tomb, a time of grief, reflection and hope. The writer, Kamala Santos, has woven together the grief, reminiscences and hope of the disciples — there’s a lot of hope there as well as the grief. Hopefully it will intrigue and interest people.”

Easter pilgrimage

Kamala Santos, who is also acting story advisor across the whole project, said: “The Edinburgh Passion is special because it’s an attempt to tell the passion story in real-time from the Thursday evening through to Easter Sunday morning.

“The story will spill out across the city and pop up in unexpected nooks and crannies. People can move from scene to scene throughout the weekend, almost like an Easter pilgrimage.

“Retelling it in real-time, all over the city, with multiple groups involved is a way of bringing people closer to the action and the characters, and breaking it out of church buildings, where it is often left to stagnate.”

Director Suzanne Lofthus of Cutting Edge Theatre, who directed the Easter Play in Princes Street Gardens for 15 years, says she was inspired to by the National Theatre of Wales’ 72-hour The Passion, staged in 2011 in Port Talbot.

She said: “A lot of my work is with those who find themselves more on the sidelines, whether that’s adults with additional support needs or people in prisons. I’m aware of how often we box people in and create barriers.

“This project is about tearing down those barriers, celebrating our humanity and seeing how powerful and inspiring it is when we leave those differences behind and work together. Someone described the project as a tapestry — it may look messy behind the scenes but when you weave it together, it creates something beautiful.”

The Edinburgh Passion takes place in Venues across Edinburgh, Thursday 9 to Sunday 12 April 2020.

Full details on the Edinburgh Passion website: https://www.edinburghpassion.com/


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Comments (2)

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  1. Joan Mackel says:

    Looking forward to the Princes Street Easter Play 2020, as part of this very new 4 day event dramatising arguably the most crucial & influential event in history.

  2. Irene Beaver says:

    I’m looking forward to playing Martha in the Princes Street Play on Holy Saturday and also to playing a sceptic in Edinburgh People’s Theatre’s offering on Good Friday in the Good Shepherd Church Hall at Murrayfield from 6-7pm.