Good Friday Drama in Epsom 2017
The Good Friday Service this year again took the form of a drama in two parts, held at the grassy Dulshot Green and on a raised platform in the Market Square. The procession once again imagined those processing as representing an incensed mob responding to the words of Jesus spoken on loud hailers with total intolerance and murderous intent. They had already frustrated Pilate’s plan to release Jesus as recipient of the traditional act of clemency to a Jewish prisoner at Passover but preferred Barabbas, convicted of both insurrection and murder. Jesus was portrayed carrying the centrepiece of his cross, in considerably better physical shape than the Jesus of the gospels needing Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross for him after his scourging at the column by the Roman soldiers.
The scenes at Dulshot Green followed Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, his prayer at Gethsemane, the arrest and trials before the Jewish High Priest and the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. Pilate’s perception that Jesus represented little threat to Roman authority in Jerusalem and that his engagement was in religious rather than criminal activities found little empathy with the Jewish crowd. Failure to assent to their desires was likely to cause of a riot but he was able to blame the Jews for any miscarriage of justice and sought to preserve his personal integrity by publicly washing his hands of the affair.
Seeking to encompass both the Crucifixion and Resurrection which took place over three days in a very short space of time necessitated an extreme compression of the events. It also involved a number of participants each providing part of the story from their perspective on a single platform which represented many different locations. The drama was successfully achieved this year by interspersing the different characters between choruses well sung by a group of three singers which seamlessly provided continuity and a grounding of faithful reflection of the events by previous generations of believers. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” underpinned the distraught Mary Magdalene’s attempts to cling on to the Jesus she loved, the demoralised Peter’s lack of conviction that he was still the rock on which Jesus would still build his church and the scientific doubts of Thomas who had not himself been present when the resurrected Jesus appeared to the other disciples. Better story-telling could, however, have been achieved by the use of a narrator identifying the different locations and the different characters. “But we believe it was for us he hung and suffered there” summarised the significance of Christ’s death to a present-day generation.
The bridge between Crucifixion and Resurrection was the hymn “When I survey the wondrous cross” by Isaac Watts offering a perspective from the point of view of a mature believer who was able to interpret the death of Christ within a biblical context. Lack of time limited Christ’s resurrection appearances and his prophetic words to his followers which would establish the Christian church which has continued through two millennia, a far cry from the unpromising demeanour of unbelieving disciples and demoralised believers. We needed to hear Thomas’s response to being able to see the risen Christ who appeared to him: “My Lord and My God.” And Christ’s words of blessing to those who not having seen but yet believe.
The final hymn was “Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son”. The Vicar of Christ Church, Epsom, Rosemary Donovan invited us to an information tent in the Market Place and to hot drinks and hot cross buns provided by Epsom Methodist Church.
Good Friday Drama in Epsom 2017 this is the report written for the local papers in case you missed this?
Churches Together in Epsom (CTiE) produced a dramatization of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in Epsom on Good Friday. It was very much a team effort with actors, musicians, technical and staging crew, stewards, wardrobe and administrative support working together from across different denominations in Epsom. This year the production was directed by Craig Donovan and Jesus was played by Revd. Chris Hancock from St Martin’s.
The aim was to bring the narrative alive with dialogue, monologue and song. We met initially at Dulshot Green and then processed to the Market Square.
The trials, Jesus’ prayerful appeal to God, and his subsequent betrayal and arrest were staged. The spectators became the crowd, not a polite Epsom group, but a mob who wanted Jesus’ blood. They called for crucifixion as a response to statements of Jesus that showed a bias to the poor and called for sacrifice.
When Jesus, carrying his cross, and the crowd arrived in the middle of Epsom the crucifixion was represented. The soldiers mocked him, his friends lamented the horror of his fate and the crowd joined in the sorrow in the words of the famous hymn “When I survey.”
We represented the burial and resurrection in dialogue between the women at the tomb, Mary Magdalene and Jesus and Mary and Thomas; and Mary’s words at the end “He will accept anyone who will respond to his love, accept his forgiveness” summarise the Easter message of the Christian church.
Members of the Epsom churches joined with Churches together in Ewell to provide a tent for quiet reflection in the Market Square until 1pm and the cross remained as a symbol of all that had been enacted there. There were hot cross buns as welcome refreshment provided by Epsom Methodist Church.
We were pleased that many people could share in the drama and that a good crowd attended in the sunshine. The churches are delighted to portray this testimony to the events of Good Friday and Easter.
Photographs with thanks to Yan Tan
Rev Sue Curtis of Christchurch Epsom who drafted the drama with direction by Craig Donovan
Some material adapted from:-
"Stages on the Way "by Wild Goose Worship group and
"Reflective Services for Lent, Holy Week and Easter" by Nick Fawcett
Thanks to:-Southfleld Park School, Rosebery School and Kingswood House
for the loan of sound equipment and staging, to Lantern Arts for costumes
and to Rainbow Gardening for transport
Our grateful thanks to:
Epsom and Ewell Borough Council for allowing us to use the marketplace and Epsom Methodist Church for refreshing us afterwards.
This has been a team effort depending on actors, musicians, technicians, publicity, wardrobe, stewards and crew working together.
If you have attended any of the previous Walks of Witness
then browse some of them HERE