Speaking on behalf of Gatecrash Theatre, Wroughton Parish Church, Swindon Churches Together and The Bible Society we would like to thank you and our community for all your support on this project. To say is surpassed our expectations would be an understatement. It absolutely was an overwhelming success and we are so grateful to everyone who contributed… whether it be attending rehearsals on a dark, cold winter’s evening, sparing us a little money towards the project, allowing us use of your space on or leading upto the day, sewing endless costumes, attending meetings, allowing us to hold you up on your journey through Wroughton on Good Friday morning, wearing fluorescent yellow (a colour that appears to suit no-one) and ushering traffic, and so, so, so much more! Every one of you added something to this that made the final piece so incredibly moving. Now for the statistics… in the end we had around 200 people involved; the 125 performers who met an audience of around 1800 people on the day managed remarkably well with the logistical changes that needed to be made…. this is a huge credit to both them, the Police, Stewards and Production team for being so flexible. This project will go down in Wroughton history; I am sure of that and I am proud of that.
I contacted a few key people for this final post for their input and have included some of their comments below. However, I feel I should say that all of them commented one thing – just how grateful they were for the support and how delighted they were with the final result and that is why we are posting this – we are all so thankful to each and every one of you who contributed.
Jordan Turk, the professional actor who voluntarily played Jesus for us added….”The whole day for me passed by in a kind of blur and it has taken these past two weeks to fully appreciate and react to all the craziness that took place. It comes back to me every so often in a heady mix of feelings and images. The glorious sun, the sea of faces, the audience’s very tangible energy, having a Last Supper…then a Last Last Supper, being caked in blood, oddly calm and normal moments of down time in between scenes, and finally overwhelming relief at an incredibly logistical job well done and somehow hitch free. It feels great to have not only showed off our months of work but to have had such an overwhelmingly positive response to it all”. Jordan continues “I once went on a holiday a number of years ago to a place in the north of Scotland called Scourie. I had a very lovely time, it was a beautiful place, stayed in a nice cottage, made some great memories. But as the holiday came to a close and we drove away from the cottage, I had the sudden feeling of never ever wanting to go back there. I had such a perfect time that I wanted those memories to stay that way. To try to capture that same magic would diminish the experience. For that reason, I look back very fondly on it and it remains a vivid memory. I feel the same way about the Passion. It was one performance which can never be replicated for me no matter how hard I try. The massive turnout, the feeling of togetherness with the people of Wroughton, the combined effort of hundreds of people over months of hard work. It all came together perfectly in that particular moment and it is a day that will forever be etched in my memory”.
One of the project’s key funders was The Bible Society, who have their Head-Quarters in Swindon. Their Interim CEO, Paul Woolley, came on the day and was a member of the steering group and made a very valid point about the audience… “In a sense, there were no spectators. The audience got caught up in the events depicted, and followed Jesus on a journey through the last week of his life. We were ‘there’ as Jesus entered Jerusalem as a king, at the table during the last supper, in Gethsemane as Jesus prayed and his disciples slept, witnesses at his trial, and we too climbed the hill to his crucifixion.” For me, this is what makes ‘great’ theatre…. we should never feel ‘just’ a spectator, we should feel part of what is happening and motivated in some way by what we see and feel. Paul goes on; “This dramatic presentation showed exactly what the Bible can do. It is the story of God and the world, and it invites us to play our part in everything that unfolds. We can’t avoid getting involved or being changed in some way through our engagement with it. This is what happened on Friday. It was an outstanding piece of theatre certainly, superbly produced, with some great actors, and it engaged the village in an unprecedented way. However, something more profound took place which will be remembered for years to come. We won’t leave the story behind. We will continue to ponder it, consider it, and talk about it.”
Speaking on behalf of Gatecrash Theatre and Anna Friend (the Director) and Dave Jell (the Technical Manager) and all the rest of the Production Team we were delighted at the number of people who stayed with us until the very end of the journey. Three hours of theatre on a bank holiday morning is no easy commitment and yet so very many people made that. Thank you!
Finally I would like to turn to Nicola Such, the Curate of Wroughton Parish Church and a
member of the steering group behind the project. For me she encapsulates the success of what was achieved in her comments “the lasting legacy of this endeavour is the sense of community it has created- especially amongst people in Wroughton- we have had the chance to get to know each other better or for the first time”. Nicola has felt this sense of community within the church “Someone remarked to me in church this Sunday that there was a different feeling- as if the play had drawn us closer together- and for me, it’s this sense of new and deeper connections that excites me most because who knows where it might lead us next!”
Producer – Wroughton Passion Play