James Burke-Dunsmore: Performing the Gospel poorly would be a huge disservice

Passion plays take place across the country each Easter(Photo: Christian Today)

The Passion Trust held their third annual Passion conference on Saturday in St Jude's Church, South Kensington.

The registered charity aids and promotes performances of passion plays and biblical stories around the UK.

The purpose of passion plays, which are performed during Easter, is to bring the Gospel message to life within communities.

Individuals from all walks of life are welcome to volunteer to participate and often discover talents and experience God's love.

"We have a moral decline in the West and people are not that interested in faith anymore," says Passion Trustee Alex Stewart-Clark.

He continued: "There is a spiritual hunger out there and if we put these events on and it impacts the people that volunteer, it will also impact the community who watch it."

Sharon Muiri, Lecturer in Applied Drama and Theatre at Winchester University is the artistic director for a Passion play in Poole. At the conference she voiced the importance of community spirit when participating in the project.

"For this to work, the process of actually creating a community is as important as actually getting the play together because if people are not a community, they don't feel part of something and it won't work," she said.

She continued: "In a way I think that in quite a broken up environment we've actually created a community."

Another guest speaker present at the conference was actor James Burke-Dunsmore, who has played the part of Jesus for 16 years and believes that no story will "challenge people as much as Christ's story".

He also spoke of how fundamental it is for the Gospel message to be performed right.

"If we do it poorly, we could be doing it a huge disservice to ourselves, to our future generations and to Christ," he said.

The final talk of the day was given by actor Israel Oyelumade, who is the artistic director for Love Beyond, a musical that chronicles the fall of man and the life of Jesus. He touched on the importance of intercessory prayer when planning a performance centred on Christ.

"It is so crucial. When we knew that we were going to take Love Beyond to the scale that it is now, our intercessory team grew to 150. If you have a national plan, somebody else is not going to let you do that," he said.

He also encouraged people to be open to raw talent in their search for volunteers in a Passion play.

"Fill them with enthusiasm, especially if God is bringing people that are broken to you deliberately. Start to encourage them from the moment they step in," he said.

"Life and death is in the power of the tongue and some of these people have only had death spoken to them, so if they come to you speak life to them. Even though it is a community project it could spill out."