Mmegi Online :: The passion play gripping
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Last Updated
Wednesday 24 May 2017, 14:42 pm.
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The passion play gripping

This is really an intimate play where you confront yourself and your values, especially in regard to children and family.
By Ulf Nermark
Correspondent
(GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: The passion play gripping








It is a different theatrical experience not previously performed in Botswana.  It begins at the parking lot of Westwood International School.  That's the departure point for the play. The ticket holders embark on a bus that takes the audience to the venue at Diphiring, about 15 minutes drive past Phakalane.  The bus ride is also interactive thanks to the "man with the sweets and fruit".  He talks and interacts with the passengers on the way there.

The venue is nature's own stage on property loaned to the production by women's rights activist and former High Court judge Unity Dow. It's a beautiful landscape; Botswana bush with outcrops and boulders hugged by the roots of fig trees.  The audience walks as a group at a slow pace from the gate led by a young shepherd.  He doesn't say much but points with his stick at different items at three "stations" on the way to the first "performance stage"; umbrellas, a small stool (a drink crate with a cushion) and a bottle of water are picked up by each and everyone.

The Passion Play is produced by the head of Drama at Gaborone's Westwood International School, Aldo Brincat.

This is his second major community-based theatre production, following the successful production of Cinderella at the Mantlwaneng Hall during the 2011 festive season.  The production features a strong cast of actors, singers, musicians, dancers and visual artists.  But theatre is not just the people on stage, even the support cast, crew and management were drawn from local talent.

The play has four scenes performed at four different "natural stages". The last stage is where the audience meets Jesus.  The scene starts with the young Christ waking up and then multiplying the bread to share with the audience.  During this ceremony it was possible for the audience to write prayers on the body of Christ.  He then delivered a sermon to the audience from on top of a rock.  From

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this rather pleasant event we are suddenly confronted with a very violent capture of Christ and where they force him onto the cross.  This was a very strong visual scene where Christ was put on a small platform that slowly moved him up on a very tall steel cross, rising next to the audience.  The thorns around his head added to the impact as it was silhouetted against the late afternoon sky.  After the call for his Father in Heaven, his captors were struck dead and he was taken down from the cross by three men, swept into a white sheet and carried away to the accompaniment of the singing of the cast clad in traditional attire.

That was the end of the Passion Play, but not the end of the performance experience.  On the way towards the bus there were two additional stops.  The first one was where the guests could have their feet washed by members of the cast. Some were a bit reluctant at first, while others really enjoyed the feeling of being cared for and felt it was part of a ritual.

The last stop was intended to make people talk to each other.  Friends or partners had an opportunity to tell things they don't normally say.  Even here it was apparent that the audience did not immediately feel comfortable and there was much shy giggling.

The last impression of the play was to see Jesus and the little shepherd sitting on a big rock by the path, waiving at people as they passed by on the way back to the bus. The Passion Play, which is a collaboration of theatre, art and spiritual pilgrimage, has many unusual twists and turns.  I have avoided telling you the details and the conclusions of the different scenes.  It is for you to experience!

The remaining performances are:
* April 21 (English), April 22 (Setswana); and
* April 28 (English), April 29 (Setswana).

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