already written about the play, and you can see photos at
its own website. This
is a magnificent event, unique in Australia, and, amazingly, itís just a
five-minute walk from my home.
Local businessman Pat La Manna
explains candidly on the
playís website how it all started:
In 1996, during a Good Friday service at my local church, I
kept reflecting on the Oberammergau Passion Play performance that occurs
every 10 years. For some inexplicable reason, the thoughts that went through
my mind seemed to focus on that event to such an extent that I was
completely overwhelmed by the experience.
Suddenly, it dawned on me that a similar enactment of the life of Jesus
Christ could be undertaken right here in Australia. The more I considered
this idea, the more I knew it was the right thing to do.
The inspiration I had received provided the catalyst for initiating the
first step in what was to become one of the most amazing and rewarding
experiences of my life. The task ahead was enormous, but, somehow within a
few months, all the pieces seemed to fall into place as if by divine
intervention. As a result, the first Passion Play enactment took place
successfully in 1997.
The setting is typically Australian Ė a beautiful, sprawling
park with eucalyptus and gum trees, the occasional kookaburra and cockatoo,
and a wetlands area with native lake birds.
Yet somehow it is all transformed into Judea, with Roman
centurions strolling around, while fishermen keep watch over their nets and
And angels lurk among the trees.
Part of the magic is that the three-hour play moves around
the park Ė rather than being confined to an auditorium - with the spectators
following. It is hard, at the end, not to feel powerfully moved.
But not Sheba.
Last year, she became agitated to find Jesus being baptized
in the deep part of the River Jordan Ė sorry, Ruffey Creek Ė where she
always takes a swim. This year I had to restrain her from menacing an angel.
Then she started barking and barking at two centurions engaged in a sword
fight. Next year Iíll leave her at home.
April 22nd, 2003