Easter Play Rises

Apr 15 2022 | By More

Passion Play returns to Princes St Gardens

Edinburgh’s open-air Easter Play returns to Princes Street Gardens West on Saturday April 16 with a fresh take on the Easter story which brings it right up to the present day.

This year’s Edinburgh Easter Play, Hope Rises imagines the cast as a group of displaced people who arrive in a foreign city with only what they can carry — and with a story to tell. The free performance with take place on Saturday 16 April 2022 at 2pm with a live, online feed.

Luke Rowe, who plays Christ in the Easter Play Pic: Colin Hattersley

Director Suzanne Lofthus said: “Set against the backdrop of the refugee crisis, the story is as relevant now as it has ever been. It is about hope, and the world needs hope now as much as it ever did.”

Hope Rises is a fast-paced production, telling the Easter story in a modern and vibrant manner. It was in development before the invasion of the Ukraine, but the play has taken on poignant new resonances in light of this latest refugee crisis.

The Easter Play team is encouraging donations to help Ukraine, as well to as local charities, through a special ‘Giving Tree’.

Lofthus adds: “The actors play a group of displaced people who have fled their homes in another country. They have nothing except the belongings they have managed to gather together in ten minutes. The one thing they have is their stories.

large-scale outdoor performance

“Just after we started rehearsing, the crisis in Afghanistan happened and images of displaced people fleeing oppression were, once again, all over the news.

“Then the invasion of the Ukraine happened. We were doing an exercise in rehearsal where we imagined what we would take from our homes if all we could take was a backpack. Then, in the next few days, we were seeing people leaving Ukraine who had to do exactly that.”

Luke Rowe as Christ (centre, in red robes). Pictured in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, where the Hope Rises will be performed on Saturday 16th April 2022 from 2pm. Pic: Colin Hattersley

The planned Edinburgh Easter Plays in 2020 and 2021 were cancelled due to covid-19. Hope Rises is set to be one of the first large-scale outdoor performances in central Edinburgh since the pandemic. The production will also be live-streamed for audiences around the world.

The first Edinburgh Easter Play was performed in Princes Street Gardens on Easter Saturday in 2005, and it has since become a popular and critically acclaimed event in the city attracting audiences of up to 3,000 people.

The Edinburgh Easter Play is created by a community cast drawn from across the city, working with a professional director and a professional actor in the role of Jesus.

The team aims to create a new version of the play every year. Past productions have ranged from traditional Passion Plays in full costume to The Edinburgh Passion (2014) by playwright Rob Drummond, a radical contemporary version set in a newly independent Scotland.

streamed live

In 2021, when covid-19 restrictions prevented a live performance for the second year running, the actors recorded an audio play, ‘Saturday’ which was streamed live on the Easter Play website, and made a series of short films at locations around the city.

These projects were so successful, with viewers and listeners tuning in from all over the country and around the world, that organisers have decided to livestream the 2022 production.

Suzanne Lofthus said: “While there is no substitute for the live performance, the livestream means that audiences from all over will be able to enjoy the play.

“We are delighted to be back performing in Princes Street Gardens. Ours will be one of the first live events in the Gardens after restrictions are lifted, so it really does feel like hope returning.”


Hope Rises – the Edinburgh Easter Play
Princes Street Gardens (West), Princes St. EH2 2HG
Saturday 16 April 2022
One performance: 2pm.
The performance is free and unticketed.
Hope Rises’ will also be livestreamed on: www.easterplay.org.

Treasure Hunt
The company is also creating some wraparound events for the performance. One of these is a treasure hunt for families, starting at 12:30pm in the Gardens before the play. Families need to register for this at Treasure Hunt.


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