Passionate voices

Mar 28 2024 | By | Reply More

Women’s stories take centre stage in Passion Play

The script for this year’s Passion Play in Princes Street Gardens West tells the Easter story as always, but is inspired by the injustices still suffered by women around the world to this day.

Easter, The Women’s Story, is presented by Cutting Edge Theatre and directed by Suzanne Lofthus, bringing together a 40 strong cast of professional and amateur performers from all faiths and none. It takes place at 2pm this Saturday, 30 March, 2024.

Easter, The Women’s Story preview. Yvonne Fraser, Theo Fraser, Cecilia Conceicao, Calum Barbour (as Jesus Christ) and Yvonne Lau. Pic: Colin Hattersley.

The script for Easter, The Women’s Story is written by Lofthus with contributions from three cast members: Alison Parkinson, Mike Frew and Anita France. It tells the story of Easter from the perspective of 11 women whose lives were changed.

Lofthus has been staging the Easter Passion Play in Princes Street Gardens since 2005. She says that this year’s take on the story was directly inspired by the injustices which are still being suffered by women in parts of the world today.

“The Easter story is one of the great stories of the world and has relevance in whatever time we’re living in,” she says.

“I was struck by the oppression of women in countries like Iran and Afghanistan, how women are not allowed to have a voice, and how they are being arrested, jailed, even killed if they speak out.

turned away

“In Afghanistan, women are stopped from going out unaccompanied, not allowed to have an education, not able to have jobs. There is a scene in the play where the women go to the temple because they want to hear the teaching, and the priests turn them away.”

The one-off production is one of the largest community theatre productions in Scotland. Around 100 people, including actors, costume-makers, stewards and technicians, work over several months to help bring the play to life.

Easter: The Women’s Story preview. Yvonne Fraser, Theo Fraser, Cecilia Conceicao, Calum Barbour (as Jesus Christ), Yvonne Lau, Joshua Aboyade-Cole, Iyin Aboyade-Cole and Nathan Aboyade-Cole. Pic: Colin Hattersley.

Professional actor Calum Barbour will play Christ. First reviewed on Æ in Leitheatre’s production of Takin’ Over the Asylum in 2014, he was also in the long-running tour of Trainspotting Live and most recently in pantomime at the Brunton and Loretto School. He previously worked with Cutting Edge in their tour of Downs with Love.

Past versions of the Edinburgh Passion Play have included a series of monologues and a hard-hitting contemporary version, set in a near-future Scotland.

Loftus says that the women in the story of Christ’s passion who are brought to the fore this year, are the given the prominence and identities which are omitted from the bible or only alluded to.


“There are women in the story of Easter but they are at the edges,” she says. “They are mentioned in the Bible but we don’t often get to hear their stories. Sometimes they are not even named.

“I wanted to see what the story looks like from their point of view, and it has been quite revealing. We worked with the actors to give them names, faces, identities.

“We know women were there along with the male disciples, but we’re not used to seeing women at the Last Supper or in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was very radical in that time because he treated men and women equally.

“Peter the disciple had a wife, for example, but we only know she existed because Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Pontius Pilate’s wife tries to save Jesus’ life. The first person to see Jesus after his Resurrection was a woman, Mary Magdalene.”


Easter – The Women’s Story
West Princes St Gardens, 104 Princes Street EH2 3AA.
Saturday 30 March 2024

One show 2pm.
Free and unticketed: Further details here.


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