Wake Forest to Present Outdoor Passion Play

On Palm Sunday, more than 80 members of the Wake Forest community will perform the Passion Play the way it would have been done in the Middle Ages — outdoors without a stage.

For the “promenade” production of the Passion Play, episodes in Christ’s life will be set at different campus locations. The audience, guided by a narrator, will move from place to place as the story of Christ’s baptism, teachings, miracles, betrayal, arrest, crucifixion and resurrection unfolds.

The free performance begins at 6:30 p.m. April 5 in the theater lobby of Scales Fine Arts Center. The 75-minute presentation will be repeated April 6 and 7.

The promenade Passion Play was first performed at Wake Forest in 1992. Director James Dodding based the production on texts from the Mystery Plays, medieval dramas based on scriptural events. He rewrote selected scenes, translating them into modern language.

Dodding, professor of theater, has also directed stage versions of the Passion Play at the university twice before.

“The plays were originally written for amateurs, to be performed out-of-doors,” Dodding said. “They were simple and direct and meaningful.”

In keeping with that tradition, many of the cast members have little theater experience.

Edwin Wilson, senior vice president and English professor, will narrate the performance. University Chaplain Ed Christman will play the part of God and sophomore J. P. Stephens will perform the role of Jesus. Sophomore Bill Diggle will play Judas.

“We wanted to celebrate Easter in a way that was right for Wake Forest,” said Dodding.

The Wake Forest University Gospel Choir and the Wake Forest Baptist Church choir will sing.

The event is part of the 1997-98 Year of Religion in American Life. For more information, call 336-758-5294.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Events