The Gospel story brought to life in Horstead
The first Horstead Passion play took place on Sunday March 18 in the Tithe Barn next to the Horstead Centre. The performance was sold out and, true to the tradition of Passion Plays, had a large cast and crew, with ages across seven decades and performers drawn from a wide variety of local groups.
Cawston Church’s Worship group provided most of the musical accompaniment from the minstrels’ gallery, which provided an ethereal atmosphere. Aylsham’s Pop Corn & Grace radio team did a special broadcast and the Angel Gabriel (played by Jonathan Meyrick, Bishop of Lynn) narrated the tale from the Garden of Eden to the tomb through speech and song.
Although many of the early scenes took place on the stage, chairs were moved back to enable the audience to participate 'in the round' with the procession to the cross. The crucifixion was staged up in the gallery with the onlookers gazing upwards. The most moving scene was when Jesus’ body was carried back down to his mother, Mary.
The final act involved all in a procession outside into the grounds of the Horstead Centre where the climbing wall equipment became the tomb. All braved the sub-zero temperatures and warmed-up afterwards with hot-cross buns and hot drinks.
The event involved many folks from the local Christian community, drawing people together from the Aylsham and District Team Benefice, All Saints’ Church, children from St Michael’s, Aylsham, Buxton and Hainford schools, Pop Corn & Grace radio team, North Walsham Methodist Church, Diocese of Norwich, The Horstead Centre and Tithe Barn.
Writer and Producer Kandi Kammoun explains: “The Horstead Passion was sparked by a piece of orthodox liturgy which has always resonated deeply with me. It is from the Feast of the Annunciation and reveals the Angel Gabriel's astonishment at the message he has been given to deliver to the Virgin Mary: -
Gabriel was sent from heaven to announce to the virgin the glad tidings of her conceiving. Having come to Nazareth he pondered with astonishment that He Who dwells in the highest, whom no one can comprehend, was to be born of a virgin. How can He Whose throne is the heavens; whose footstool is the earth, be contained in the womb? He upon Whom the six-winged seraphim and the many eyed cherubim dare not gaze has been pleased to be made flesh from this His creation. Truly it is God the Word Who dwells within her.
Kandi continues: “From this I set out to write "The Passion" from Gabriel's perspective. It was incredibly moving for me to take the Angel principally associated with the Nativity, and place him firmly alongside Jesus through His life, ministry and crucifixion.
“Using the Angel's all-seeing viewpoint meant that we could begin the story in The Garden of Eden today, where an encounter takes place between Gabriel (played by Bishop Jonathan) and Satan (played by the Rev. Charles Read). Goaded by Satan, Gabriel reflects on the events 2000 years ago, and in doing so, relives his own torments at accompanying Christ through his human mission and ultimate crucifixion.
“It is a story about love, family, hope, compassion, temptation, betrayal, injustice, doubt, fear, pain and a final degrading death. We share Gabriel's own heartbreak as he witnesses the Human challenging the Divine, during the tormented pleading in Gethsemane when Jesus asks "if this cup can be taken away"; to the agony on the Cross as He cries: "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"
“The whole thing turned out as I hoped: powerful and thought-provoking – taking both the audience and those participating on a journey.”
For more on this story, including many more pictures, visit:
The images are courtesy of Diocese of Norwich.
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