Judas wanted…

Jan 31 2023 | By More

Edinburgh Easter Play’s open call for Princess Street Gardens show

Cutting Edge Theatre has put out an open call for amateur performers to join the cast of its annual production of The Edinburgh Easter Play in Princess Street Gardens.

The company is looking double the cast numbers in this year’s show, which will take place on Easter Saturday, April 8 2023. It has put out an open call for actors of all ages and abilities, but is particular keen to find an an actor to take on the role of Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus.

A scene from the 2017 production of the Edinburgh Easter Play.

The Easter Play has been performed in Princes Street Gardens West, below Edinburgh Castle, since 2005, attracting audiences of up to 3,000 people.

Past productions have ranged from traditional Passion Plays in full costume to innovative retellings of the story set in the contemporary world. This year’s large scale promenade production will be played in traditional costume.

Suzanne Lofthus, artistic director of Cutting Edge Theatre, said: “We are a few disciples short of a dozen at the moment, and we want to increase the size of the cast this year to create a real spectacle.

“Judas is a fascinating part. In some ways, he’s the villain of the story, but what made him do what he did? It’s an interesting journey for an actor to go on.”


Besides looking to cast actors who have previous experience, the Easter Play is a good place to start for those who want to try their hand at acting.

“We’d also like to meet anyone who feels like giving acting a try,” continues Lofthus. “No experience is necessary, and there are plenty of non-speaking parts available as well as speaking parts. There are backstage roles available too.

“The cast of the Easter Play come from all walks of life, and from all faiths and none. It’s like a big family, people have been through births, marriages and deaths together. It’s a lovely way to gain confidence and have fun.”

Edinburgh Easter Play 2017

In 2021, when covid-19 restrictions prevented a live performance, the actors recorded an audio play and made a series of short films at locations around Edinburgh. In 2022, the play was one of the first large-scale outdoor performances in the city centre as restrictions lifted.

The company finds fresh ways to tell the story each year, from traditional to dynamic modern productions. This is the first time a traditional Passion Play in full costume has been staged since 2017.

David McBeath, from Bathgate, has been acting in the play ever since the first productions of The Life of Jesus Christ in the grounds of Dundas Castle more than 20 years ago. Despite his initial reluctance, he has gone on to play a range of parts, and even undertook specialist training to choreograph the fight scenes in the play.

He said: “The first year, I was dragged along by my then girlfriend. I’m not religious and I wasn’t interested in acting or being up in front of a crowd. But once I got started there was no going back.


“You can be involved at whatever level you want, from selling fruit in the market place to having a major part. It’s a really supportive community that puts no pressure on you. If you’re lonely or depressed, it’s great for your mental health. Come along and give it a try, you’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain.”

Katherine Calder, from South Queensferry, is another long-term member of the cast. She said, “I was a teenager when I started and I wasn’t a confident person at all. I was very nervous, but everyone was so warm, I just kept coming back.

“It has helped my confidence so much. I don’t know where I would be or what I would be doing if I hadn’t walked into the first rehearsal all those years ago. It has given me lifelong friends.”

Cutting Edge Theatre, which offers training in the performing arts for disabled people through its INSPIRE programme, champions inclusion and accessibility and welcomes performers of all abilities.

Anyone interested is invited to come along to rehearsals at Diadem (formerly Stenhouse Parish Church), 537-539 Gorgie Road on Wednesdays at 7pm, or to contact Suzanne Lofthus for more information on cuttingedge21@btinternet.com.


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