Props are being readied and scripts rehearsed ahead of Easter and the annual Passion plays.
In Brighton, local churches are staging a Passion play as part of a major Easter festival, Soul By the Sea.
Churches are hoping to build on the success of the first ever Passion play to be held on the Brighton seafront last year, which was attended by thousands of people.
The festival has the backing of Anne Meadows, Mayor of Brighton and Hove, and local MP Mike Weatherly.
Duggie Dug Dug will provide some fun entertainment for children, while Christian band Phatfish will perform some of their best-loved tracks at an evening concert.
The Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, the Rt Rev Kieran Conry, said: “It is good to see the Christian witness on the streets of Brighton. I hope many churchgoers can support the initiative and make their presence felt in the broader community. This is a great opportunity. Let’s not miss it.”
Churches in Aberdeen are bringing together more than a hundred Christians and non-Christians performers for “The Aberdeen Passion – One Life Given”.
The traditional Passion play draws from the Gospel of Luke, and will feature a live band and choir performing modern songs with lyrics specially written for the production.
The Aberdeen Passion will be performed on Easter Friday and 7 April at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, with tickets starting from £10.
In Lancaster, churches are staging a Festival of Hope on Easter Sunday outside the town hall. The festival includes music, free food, activities, and a prayer and healing tent.
Event coordinator Chris Dixon said: “We want to express what the Christian faith is all about. What more appropriate time than Easter to demonstrate together, through our words and our actions, that God’s love is for all?”
The Houghton le Spring Passion Play will be staged on Good Friday in the rather dramatic setting of a 19th century graveyard situated in an old limestone quarry.
People turning out to watch the spectacle at Houghton Hillside Cemetery will be encouraged to join in as part of the crowd that jostled for a glimpse of Jesus as he dragged the cross.
The crucifixion scene will take place in front of the Miners’ Monument, a cross commemorating miners laid to rest in the cemetery, some of whom lost their lives in the Houghton Colliery Disaster in 1850.
The Rev Canon Sue Pinnington, the Rector of Houghton le Spring and producer of the play, said: “There will be a lot of movement during the Play. The narrator and members of the cast will move around the quarry and the audience will be able to follow the story, exactly as happened when Jesus was crucified.
“There will be guards in modern military dress, complete with guns, who will move people away if they go too near, to give it a realistic feel.
“The whole idea is to show that the story may be 2,000 years old but it is still relevant and contemporary. People will be able to experience what it was like for those people watching the crucifixion of Jesus.
“There will be an edginess to the show. People will be able to accompany Jesus on his last journey. It will be a living play.”
The Preston Passion is the centrepiece of the BBC’s Easter programming this year and will be broadcast live on 6 April from an outdoor location in the heart of the city.
The event will be presented by Fern Britton, and traditional choir and brass band music will be complemented by contemporary pieces, such as Candy Staton’s gospel classic “You Got the Love”, to be performed by M People’s Heather Small.
Three pre-recorded dramas will be screened simultaneously on big screens in Preston and on BBC One.
The pieces, directed by Daniel Wilson, are entitled Pilate, Mary and Jesus. They are inspired by the themes of the Passion of Christ and based in Preston past and present.
The cast includes Samantha Bond, Tom Ellis and Julia Haworth.
Aaqil Ahmed, Head of Religion and Ethics said: “This year across our BBC TV and Radio coverage we have really strived to be ambitious whilst maintaining the core of what is important to mark and reflect on at Easter."
On the web:
Churches gearing up for Easter Passion Plays
Published 22 March 2012