Like latter day pilgrims a group of actors from The Poole Passion journeyed to Italy. Their holy grail to be the first UK passion play to become part of Euro Passion.
The party of nine were truly representative of The Poole Passion. A biennial community event that has become a modern tradition in our town. The Poole Passion daubed “The Peoples’ Passion” is a completely inclusive group. This motif was prevalent in our group; we aged 10 years old to ninety, a totally eclectic group not just generation wise but in so many of life’s experiences.
The play Through the Eyes of A Child, which was written specifically to be performed in Parkstone United Reformed Church and St. Peter’s Parkstone, was how we found ourselves travelling up into the beautiful arms of the Italian Alps, with panoramic views of an awesome and inspiring landscape.
Unlike Poole’s Passion Play which began in 2009, Sordevolo’s epic presentation of the Death of Christ at the Giovanni Paolo II amphitheatre – have been putting on their play “religiously” for two hundred years. They perform it every five years. What a breath-taking experience to feel part of the cultural living history of Sordevolo. Roman soldiers galloped onto the acting area in full Roman costume. The cast was 500 strong and it was almost painterly watching the wonderful cinematic crowd scenes and all in the open air with night enveloping the experience; the sadness of the Easter story followed by resurrection and hope.
The producer of The Poole Passion, Jan Miller, said of the whole event, which consisted of The Europassion Conference where Poole gave a presentation and were invited into The Euro Passion, watching the Sordevolo play and the enormous hospitality we received from our Italian hosts as they welcomed countries from all over Europe to their hill top town was “Europe at its best”.
What a wonderful contrast to the negativity we are fed. Here was Europe really working as a wonderful friendship.
The thing we had in common was the same at Europassion as it is in Poole; the making of a play, a community play bringing people together and forming a kind of family. In Europe the Poole family became the European family. We also have to be grateful to the National Passion Trust who network all of the UK plays together forming another kind of family.
One touching aspect was one of the most beautiful meals that was laid on for the delegates of the conference, with trestle tables laid out end to end throughout a whole street within the town. The tables dressed with flowers. Stylish waiters and waitresses attended us on the delivery of a nine-course meal! The Italian wine flowed as did the conversation. The handsome mayor in his bright sash; the brass band playing in the background. It was quintessentially Italian.
Bob, the father of Poole Passion at a very young ninety found himself singing with a group of young Germans:- “Ein prosit ein prosit der Gemütlichkeit”. They hugged him. On their phones they searched for where in Germany his late wife was from. He lost his brother in Germany in the 2nd World War and here he was embracing his new-found friends.
“One of the best night’s I’ve had for 20 years” Bob said, adding “I firmly believe that while Britain and Germany have a friendly relationship, there will be no major conflict in Europe”.
The performance of passion plays from whichever city, town or village in Europe matters in a profound way to the participants. Certainly The Poole Passion has and is having a profound experience in Poole. I wonder if in two hundred years it will still be going?
If you would like to be part of The Poole Passion 2016, visit our website at www.poolepassion.com or come to the launch of the 2015-2016 season; 7pm on Wednesday, 30th September, at Parkstone United Reformed Church, Commercial Road, Parkstone.