26 March 2024, The Tablet

Passion plays to be staged across UK this Easter

Passion plays to be staged across UK this Easter

Dress rehearsal, Oxford Passion Play.
Credit: Philip King Photography

A Namibian-born actress drawn close to Mary by a family tragedy is starring as the mother of Jesus in the Oxford Passion Play on March 30.

Christi Warner told The Tablet the death of her 18-year-old elder sister in a car accident had “brought me really close to Mary, and understanding what she must have felt. For me, I lost a sister. For her, it was a son.”

A parishioner at Our Lady, Help of Christians in Cowley, Warner described Mary as “a really strong woman. She had such grace, such faith. That empowered me as a woman as well.”

In Namibia, Warner acted in community theatre, using drama to help people explore issues including HIV, Malaria and how to resolve water shortages.

A mother of two, she returned to acting two years ago as Mary in the Oxford Passion play.

Carolyn Lloyd-Davies, co-producer of A Sword Shall Pierce Your Soul, said that writing the script for the hour-long outdoor play, “I wanted to push back against what I would call this sanitised Virgin Mary, who is meek and mild because when you look at the Gospels, she had to be a very strong woman.”

Around 50 people from seven Oxford churches and the wider community are involved in the play, to be staged on Holy Saturday in Hinksey Park, Oxford.

This is one of 15 free community Passion Plays being performed this Easter across the UK in locations ranging from Edinburgh to Leicester. In Worcester, the local Bishop John Inge will play one of the thieves crucified alongside Jesus.

In Londonderry, the Passion play will take place along the city walls. In Trafalgar Square – home to the largest Passion play performed by the Wintershall players– actors dressed as Roman soldiers will ride through the streets on horseback.

Originally performed in medieval England as part of the Mystery play cycles, Passion plays were banned following the Reformation.

Alex Stewart-Clark of the Passion Trust which helps communities stage free Passion Plays said: “This is the greatest story ever told. Seeing it live is an unforgettable experience for the whole family.”


For more information please visit:


And a Sword Shall Pierce Your Soul is being performed on March 30 at 12 noon and 2.30pm at Hinksey Park, Oxford


  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99