The Abingdon Passion Play 2013

Abingdon Passion Play 2013
It was very cold for Palm Sunday and so it was decided that the start and end of the first ever Abingdon Passion Play would be performed outside, as planned, but some of the two hour performance would have to be in the Guildhall.
Abingdon Passion Play 2013
As was fitting for Palm Sunday the performance began with Jesus on an Andalucian riding donkey, thanks to the Island Donkey Centre.
Abingdon Passion Play 2013
Then, after a couple more scenes, people moved from the Abbey Grounds to the Guildhall where, despite the use of the Abbey Hall and an overflow area in the Roysse Room, not everybody could fit. Somebody said there were about a thousand people when it started. So some had to wait outside or go home. A great turn out for such a cold day.
Abingdon Passion Play 2013
My son did get in and let me have this picture of the Last Supper.
Abingdon Passion Play 2013
When Jesus left the Guildhall he was stumbling under the weight of a cross.
Abingdon Passion Play 2013
People felt very sorry for the two half frozen criminals crucified either side of Jesus who had to spend twice as long on their crosses.
Abingdon Passion Play 2013
The performance was very well staged, thanks partly to the Abingdon Drama Club. There were so many community groups and schools taking part it was much bigger than a Church in Abingdon event. It was one of the big Abingdon events of 2013.

Here is a video I made of stills and movies for anybody who missed it …

66 thoughts on “The Abingdon Passion Play 2013

  1. Aloysius

    Such a shame that children are being indoctrinated to believe in such utter tosh. I hope one day we look back on this and cringe that the Town Council allowed this to happen.

    As far as I am aware there’s only one Atheist Town Councillor, how is that representative of the people? How bloody embarrassing.

  2. Addle

    Thank you for posting this. It was such an important event for the community, and so well performed and organised. I was disappointed to miss the end (I had to take my children home) so it is great to see the videos and photos. Well done to everyone involved!

  3. Sally Mears

    Alex Stewart-Clark, from London, reports that he was talking to the Mayor through the APP13 & she said how impressed she was.

    She even said that we had not asked the council for any donation. Do so next time.

    She & her husband fervently want to support this. So ask them next time.

    If it had been sunny weather then it would have been 2000 people.

  4. JenPen

    How wonderful to see a Passion Play in Abingdon! How important to remember why we really celebrate Easter. What an event for the community.

    Aloysius – attendance was not compulsory! I didn’t see anyone there who did not choose to be.

    I hope there will be more next year..?

  5. Aloysius

    Shame children don’t have that option to decide for themselves though isn’t it JenPen! They have to do what their parents tell them to do!

  6. JenPen

    I don’t particularly wish to engage with you on this, Aloysius. Belief, or indeed lack of belief, is very personal and should not to be forced on anyone.
    However, it is far better they understand why they are eating their chocolate eggs. Watching a Passion Play indoctrinates no one.

  7. Helen

    Thank you so much for posting this. The Passion Play was an amazing experience for me and our family. Moving, uplifting and a real community event. Well done to everyone.

  8. Aloysius

    Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
    – Richard Dawkins

  9. Tony

    An extraordinary and very moving Abingdon experience. Thanks and congratulations to the actors, helpers and organisers.

  10. Janet

    It was not tosh. Jesus existed and was crucified. It was Roman Emperor Constantine who wanted to make Jesus divine. He converted to Christianity and I suspect wanted a stronger persona to gather in believers. At the Council of Nicea they decided what gospels to include in the religion. They left out several gospels including the gospel of Mary Magdalen. They did not want Jesus to be perceived as a mortal man. Incidently our old testament is Jewish history. We have a religion that is based on the history of a tribal desert people, which in turn was influenced by the Egyptians

  11. Abingdon resident

    It was a moving, powerful event. Great to see such an amazing community project come together so successfully. Made me feel proud to live in Abingdon. Huge crowds – probably would have been double the numbers had the weather had been more seasonal. The icy wind during the crucifixion was particulalry memorable, I imagine it was particularly unpleasant for the robbers (and Jesus). Great acting from all, especially Chris who was a wonderful Jesus. Thanks to all involved and especially thanks for the hot cross buns at the end!!

  12. Ben Jeapes

    Aloysius, Richard Dawkins had just as much a conventional religious upbringing as any child living today; probably more so, that being the 1950s. Richard Dawkins then made up his own mind and is an atheist. No one forced him into one mindset or another. Likewise any child who was there yesterday is at complete liberty to choose their own beliefs which will, believe it or not, be based upon the evidence that they perceive. Your hypothesis does not describe the facts, ergo, your hypothesis is incorrect. That, sir, is science.

  13. East St Helen Resident

    How sad that the first post here was from someone so intolerant. Even if you’re not a believer, the story of Jesus of Nazareth is a powerful and moving one. Why shouldn’t local people put on a play of his life? It’s worrying how intolerant some atheists are becoming – talking of banning such events. Freedom or religion is fundamental to our society. I found the whole Passion Play profoundly moving, and the atmosphere among the audience – so much bigger than i was expecting – was a wonderful community feeling.

  14. Janet

    I don’t know about atheists being intollerant. Look at the slaughter and killing by people acting in the name of religion. Religious groups have been responsible for millions of deaths. The purge on so called heritics, the wars between protestants and catholics, the battles between the shia and sunni factions of Islam. Give me secularism any time.

  15. Sasha

    Apart from all of the above, it was an interesting way to spend our Sunday afternoon. My 6 year old son made a palm leaf and thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
    I wanted him to see the real story of Easter and know why we have Easter eggs.
    I think it was great that people went to the effort of performing and it was so good for Abingdon!
    We also spotted ourselves on the film on this blog which made my son smile this morning!

  16. Rob Tompkins

    I am Rob Tompkins, the Principle Conductor of Abbey Brass Band, we helped with some of the music for the passion play. I am not a church goer and neither are some of the members that came to support the event, but we were all amazed at the whole event and the fantastic turn out of the people of Abingdon. The play was excellent and the hard work of all those that took part is to be applauded. Even as a non-church goer I was very impressed by the whole event and the support that it got. Well done to everyone.

  17. Angela

    Very well done all of those who brought this marvellous venture to fruition.
    As to the town council allowing this, do you really want a council to be so biased and discriminatory that it bans everything that might be seen as indoctrination?
    Just think of all the masterpieces in music, art, and drama that would not be allowed to be heard or seen..
    I am a town councillor and I have no religious belief. As far as I am aware there are several others on the TC who are also atheists. It is no business of anyone’s what religion we councillors subscribe to unless we are using that religion, or lack of it, to harm or disadvantage the community in any way.
    I took part in the Passion play as a member of the choir. It was a very moving experience. It hasn’t changed my religion, but I deeply respect those for whom this was a religious as well as a tremendous production in its own right.

  18. Another Abingdonian

    Just to endorse what Angela said – I would be horrified if the Town Council were able to ban events on grounds such as this. I am not at all religious and wouldn’t have gone if it had been in a church, but as others have said it was a brilliant event – not least because it showed what can be done with committed volunteers, working together. We have a fantastic wealth of talent in our community, we don’t need to have everything laid on for us – yes we need support from the Councils, police etc for security and safety, but we dont need them to do eveything for us.
    Who is going to come up with – and help organise – the next big idea? – preferably non-religious so we don’t upset Aloysius again!

  19. rudi

    no problem with kids seeing this as long as the parents tell them the truth afterwards.
    If we banned everyone who believed nonsense from talking about it we wouldn’t be a free country.

  20. Chris Young

    I thought this production was a great town event! There was a brilliant turn out despite the cold weather and I felt extremely privileged to have been involved in this production let alone playing Jesus in it! Thank you to all that came to watch and support us all and it was terrific to have such a good result from all the hard work that went into it. I’d just like to point out a couple of things for all those hostile bloggers out there (namely the Aloysius character)…….1. This was not a primarily Christian event, it was a town event. On that I hope will be remembered fondly not only for its Christian message but as a good story to tell. It was not a sermon or service event for Christians. It was a play. A production. I am an actor and I was not preaching the words of God, nor was I forcing them on anyone, but instead I was trying to bring the words of the bible to life in the context of a dramatic performance. Point No.2. No children were being forced to take part or being indoctrinated. All of the children that were part of the production were very enthusiastic to take part and there was no hint whatsoever of parents forcing their children into anything. I don’t really believe that atheists out there have any grounds to criticise just because the context of the play was about Jesus. I stress one last time, it was a production not a brainwashing manifesto to turn everyone into Christians. I’d like to thank everyone for their support once more and for their kind comments, It was a blast and I thank you for coming!

  21. Audience Member Abingdon Passion Play

    Thank you for posting this video. Congratulations to all involved; how wonderful to have such great community spirit in Abingdon. Special tribute to the boy who played Jesus – he is very talented. The bravery of the two thieves who stood on the crosses for so long in sub-zero temperatures must be commended.

  22. Audience Member Abingdon Passion Play

    My post overlapped with that of the actor who played Jesus. I now know your name: Congratulations Chris!

  23. Nasty 1st Priest

    I second every word Chris has said. It was amazing to stand up with really committed people – believers and non-believers – and tell this story (which largely features someone being crushed by the ‘State’ for having a different point of view – so good to see people commenting). This was a wonderful community production and has left me a-glow from working with terrific people. David Gahan

  24. DKR87

    aloysius is trolling….ignore the troll.

    and whoever it was rolled that old line out about religion killing more people than atheism…utter tosh….the athiests of the last century killed more than any religion has done since the beginning of history combined….mao…hitler…stalin…pol pot….ALL atheists…ALL mass murderers.

    and for the record i’m an agnostic so have no dog in the fight…all that i care about is truth…truth is the highest religion of all.

  25. DKR87

    oh and fao all the Christians and people posting reference the Passion Play – stop apologising for your religion!!! if people don’t like it then ignore them….

  26. Sally Mears

    Just one comment about the singing children’s involvement, which was BRILLIANT. After their song (they enjoyed seeing the donkey) they were taken to Abingdon Music Centre with their four schools’ teachers and given drinks, biscuits and games until they dressed up for the final scene. In this one, they hid behind bushes until their cue – the beautiful solo singing from Joe Dixon, and then reappeared to sing a short song. They all did very well. On the publicity, parents were warned that some scenes were not suitable for young children. Some found it far too cold to hang around anyway. Thanks for coming to support this community-wide event if you were able. I was very grateful to the friends who joined the cast even though they were non-Christians and gave their all. I also think the man who camped out in arctic temperatures (to guard the equipment) over night is a complete hero.

  27. Abigail

    I was in the choir and the band. I was thoroughly impressed and surprised by the positive response of the people of Abingdon. It was a fantastic experience to be a part of and I’d love to do it again one day.

  28. patrick

    Aloysius, what a great name and wonderful saint he was. I assume that the holder of that same name and first comment hasn’t read about his saintly heritage. He is surely just trying to avoid the call of Jesus. That call comes to all.

  29. Katharina

    Thank you so much for putting this video and the pictures onto the blog. I was involved in the play, and it is wonderful to revisit some of it through the pictures. It was a great experience to be part of, thank you to the people who had the idea and enthusiasm to put the Passion Play on!

  30. Sally Mears (co-MD and script cobbler)

    I have just looked up St Aloysius’ Name Day and found out that it is my birthday! How funny. I was also amused that the half page article in the Times on Passion plays and this one in particular (on Saturday 9th March) was under an article on the virtue of humility. Nevertheless, I think Abingdon has much to be proud of – especially the joyful community spirit that was engendered. I was glad that a Jewish friend who attended said he had enjoyed the production very much – and this was after he had expressed severe reservations a few weeks ago on the advisability of putting on a Passion play in the first place.

  31. Rachel in East St Helen Street

    I watched the play with an atheist friend and we both enjoyed it very much. Please lighten up and get a sense of perspective Aloysius. The Passion is a great story and part of our cultural heritage. You should have come and enjoyed it too.

  32. Sally Mears (co-MD and script cobbler)

    A few hours after completing this Passion play I received an email from a friend asking advice on a possibly similar project! She has been working on this since January as 2013 is the 500th anniversary of the battle of Flodden – a momentous victory for the English over the Scots in which over 10,000 Scots were killed along with their king and all the nobility. To commemorate this event, she has recreated a folk play from a sixteenth-century ballad. The 30 musicians involved are aged 8 to 15 or so, from beginner strings to accomplished and experienced folk musicians. They sing the ballad, play folk tunes, and dance a stick dance to represent the actual fighting. It finishes with the wonderful Scottish lament, the Flowers of the Forest, which is now played to commemorate English and Scottish soldiers at Remembrance Day. In this way she wants the children to get an idea of the ultimate futility of war and the universality of music.
    They are performing it again on 20th April in the Oxford Folk Festival. It would be good to support this as John Mason’s folk group will also be featured in this Festival. I was very grateful for their contribution to setting the atmosphere for the Jerusalem Market alongside some lovely circle dancing and the Carswell School samba band. Many thanks to everyone involved in the Market scene prior to the APP13.

  33. Janet

    No one apologised for the burning of the Oxford Martyrs The three martyrs were the Anglican bishops Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The church in Oxford was complicit in their deaths. They were executed for their beliefs. So much for religion.

  34. Col

    Thanks for posting the video and pictures. I had planned to be there,with my friend, but, personal circumstances, meant we couldn’t . (friends home care arrived at 3:30 in Botley).

    I am a Methodist, and many of our congregation, were singers, or musicians. and members of Phab Club were involved as well. It is really nice to see events like this in Abingdon again. When I moved here in 1976, used to have Carnivals and other events, bringing the town together.

  35. Pingback: Abingdon | Passion Plays

  36. Fitzharrys

    As a confimred atheist, I must say I enjoyed this event, and would like to thank all who made it possible.

  37. Aloysius

    Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody—not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms—had the smallest idea what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance, and other infantile needs). Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion.
    – Christopher Hitchens

  38. anita

    As an adult who was bought up in Abingdon a number if yrs ago and saw the photos and video clips of this passion Play I thought wouldnt it be wonderful for this to take place in other communities / cities etc around the UK. We live in a free country and as previous comment said if you dont believe and dont want to observe it, then dont turn up. However Jesus has radically changed many peoples lives over the centuries. For those who think its all made up / brain washing type thing, Jesus predicted this, that many would reject him. Personal testimony of a faith based on historical facts and a living relationship with a living God who continues to perform miracles should for any one with a once of common sense give them some food for thought. Noone has ever disproved God exists. I love Him and pray for anyone who posted comments who clearly reject Him that one day they might see Him for who he is.
    Thank you to all who were part of the passion play! i hope the inspiration spreads!

  39. sam pullen-campbell

    On children… I have three of them, all of whom particpted enthusiastically in the Passion Play. They have a Christian mother and an aetheist father. They know and understand that Jesus wasa real historical figure about whose nature their parents have reached different conclusions. When they are old enough they will make up their own minds.
    Passion plays are wonderful theatre and can be remarkably binding in terms of community. They arouse passionate responses and often prompt discussion and debate. For me those things are wholly positive – and a significant part of why I agreed to direct this one!

  40. John E

    All that stuff about Catholics, protestants,sunnis,shias, Stalin, Hitler, pol pot etc all true and deplorable, but not relevant to any discussion of this story. It’s how you deal with this story and what Jesus stood for that matters.

  41. patrick

    I notice that Aloysius quotes from Hitchens and Dawkins,. those high priests of secularism and anti-religious fervour. Strange that they seem happy to be referred to as “High Priests” isn’t it? Has he not developed an independent mind or has he been brainwashed? Does that make Aloysius a disciple then? I thought such terminology is something to do with an organised religion….or is it they just don’t want Christianity……..maybe they are scared of having a meaning to their lives.

  42. Gerry Casey

    The Passion Play was absolutely uplfting. Congratulations to all those who participated inluding the organisers. I wish that our community in Co. Down could produce an event even half as good !!

  43. Sally Mears (co-MD and script cobbler)

    Good to have people over from Co. Down. A friend of mine came over from France There were over 1200 in the audience (clicked in at the gate) but it was too cold for some to stay – understandably. Should we attempt another performance in a few years time?

  44. Abingdon Resident

    It would be wonderful to have a tradition of the Abingdon Passion Play. My daughter was in the choir and she thinks its the best thing she’s ever done and can’t wait until the next one. How frequently? What about every 2 years? I am sure it will gain momentum and volunteers with every performance. It might even happen on a day when it really is spring weather!

  45. Rachel

    Yes to it becoming a new tradition! Next time, though, we’ll make sure we drag Aloysius along (how can you be an atheist with a saint’s name?) and cheer him up.

  46. Aloysius

    Patrick you’re clearly a victim of your own ignorance. Firstly Hitchens and Dawkins would hardly be happy to be called ‘High Priests’ – I presume you know them SO well…

    Also since when does quoting references count as being a disciple or being brainwashed? Clearly you’ve never had to write an essay.

    Also Patrick, since when did believing in religion equate to having meaning in your life? Anyone who has to *believe* in something to have meaning to their life, is clearly sad and pathetic.

  47. Aloysius

    Rachel, my name has no reflection on my character, Aloysius has been used in many different interpretations. Religion does not have a claim on any names.

    Also Rachel, thank you for your kind invitation to ‘The Passion Play’ but you’re clearly misguided if you think it would ‘cheer me up’ to watch a man supposedly dying for the misconstrued idea of sin, being persecuted by soldiers and priests.

  48. patrick

    Aloysius, I wiil pray for you at this Easter’s services, that God will enlighten your mind and open your heart to his love.

  49. rudi

    last time i went in a church the vicar said ‘ ah! – men!’ and i ran away – thought i was 30 years too old to get him interested in that way.

  50. Iain

    Aloysius – I’m enjoying reading the debate but please don’t presume to know my religious beliefs as a Councilor which I don’t recall having talked to you about or mentioned in a public forum.

    Your comment about belief is interesting. My old moral philosophy don used to argue (probably does) from a sceptical perspective that believing there is no god is just as much a belief with no absolute proof as believing that there is a god. If you want to take a logical stand point that bypasses belief then agnosticism might be a more tenable position to hold, but even that believes that there is not sufficient evidence to support the belief or otherwise in a god – which is of course in itself a belief.

    In short belief is part of the human condition and whatever we might choose to think we all go through life believing in stuff that is not provable in an absolute context.

    Sorry for the treatise

    Ps well done to the organisers of the passion – I’m always a fan of events that bring our community together

  51. Caroline

    Aloysius – Unless Its Changed – I believe you will find that England is a Christian Country with the Queen the Head of Church. Ive visited Muslim countries, and although I am not personally a Muslim, respect their religious beliefs and quietly mind my own business. No one is forcing YOU to believe, same with Dawkins, if you dont believe then go away and find something else to do…. One presumes you dont have Christmas Celebrations in your household?!!

  52. Keith

    Thank you everyone who helped put on the Passion Play – a very moving production. It was poignant watching the crucifixion scene on the site of the old Abbey – connecting over a thousand years of history of Abingdon; the death and resurrection of Jesus has had a profound influence on our identity.

  53. Theoxonian

    Wow what a heated discussion here!! One thing everyone forgot …….. weren’t the ‘crucified actors’ cold in their loin cloths?!! 😉

  54. Julie

    You are right, our three guys on the cross deserve Oscars! Not only did they volunteer for the part (good for the CV?!) but they braved the elements too – just to reassure you Theoxonion (and other worried audience members) they all survived and rather enjoyed the attention that followed. We did also encourage them to wear their tunics with thermal body suits underneath, however, they were all determined to show true suffering!! Thanks to everyone for the positive comments. Julie APP Producer

  55. Chris Mears

    I’m very interested to find this rather quite funny debate, almost a year on.
    Aloysius reminds me of myself, a few years ago. That isn’t to say I’m not an atheist anymore, nor that I’m not a fervent secularist – Religion hs no right to bias in the political system. But NEITHER does the kind of anti-theism that Aloysius clearly wants to see adopted by the Town Council.
    I will briefly comment on the subject of indoctrination, which has been discussed here. The fact that children have the choice to partake in something and can obviously develope their own views later does not mean that it is not indoctrination – Children are enclined to believe what they are told and the older you get the harder it is to change your views, so religious education is indoctrination. However, this was not religious indoctrination. As Chris (How are you mate?) said, it is a play. I was once in a play based on Jesus’s life and had no problem with the fact that the theme was religious, in fact I loved playing the part of Judas and killing myself.
    While I disagree with Aloysius I find it very irritating that both sides of this debate have been over-emotionally charged and some of the opposition resorted to just throwing their faith at him. This debate reads at too American.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.