Vivian Onyekwere shares her experience of watching Chester City Passion for the first time. Vivian is studying for an MA in journalism at the University of Chester and has been producing a range of multi media stories for We Are Chester during her time living and studying in the city. She’s a star and we have loved having her on board.
Witnessing the Chester City Passion 2022 was the most exciting and beautiful experience that has ever happened to me since I came to Chester.
It was an emotional yet an unforgettable moment for me and every scene appeared so real, like in the days of Jesus.
Also seeing a real donkey for the first time in my life was so intriguing and unbelievable. Legend is such a massive donkey, almost the size of a horse, and he was friendly when I met him. Donkeys are actually calm and gentle.
I followed the donkey as it was being pulled by along by one of the characters and moving towards the Eastgate Clock, ready for the Chester City Passion to begin.
It all started with the introductory message addressing the entrance of Jesus into the city, that is, the triumphant entry into Jerusalem as mentioned in the Bible.
Standing underneath, just close to the Eastgate Clock, were the characters playing Jesus, Mary and the disciples, as they got ready for the triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
I waited patiently to see Jesus ride on the donkey but unfortunately that didn’t prove to be the case, however, it did not change the way I felt about the whole incident. Jesus and His crew marched down into the city and were welcomed and cheered by the citizens.
The palm leaves in their hands being raised up and down uniformly and in a beautiful manner, accompanied with beautiful voices singing ‘blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’, was the most beautiful sight I beheld throughout the day.
Watch the moment Jesus and his Disciples enter the city of Jerusalem in our video here.
Let us even talk about the attire and costumes of the day. All the characters looked exactly like the person they were playing. It was a powerful reminder of how the people in those days dressed and looked like.
The actions and roles of each character were exactly as they were written in the Bible, from Jesus breaking the bread and sharing it amongst His disciples to the dismissal of food and bread sellers at the church.
Every scene before my very eyes looked so real as they happened. And the scenario when Jesus was finally scorned, denied, beaten, betrayed, spat on, and finally was crucified almost brought tears to my eyes as it reminded me of the movie Passion of Christ, one movie that always made me cry whenever I watched it.
Also, the scene where Simon of Cyrene helping Jesus to carry the cross and finally being hung on the cross and saying the seven words on the cross before giving up the ghost were all emotional moments.
I had a quick flashback to my high school when Jesus said those seven words on the cross which reminded of how I learnt those words in one of my subjects at school. These scenes will always be memories never to be forgotten.
I finally got the chance to speak to the character who played Jesus, and the first thing I saw was the blood dripping down his face and that even gave me another flashback of how Jesus wore a crown of thorns on His head.
At that moment, I felt I was speaking to Jesus himself. However, when I asked Matt Banks, who played the role of Jesus, how he felt playing the role, he said: “Its most daunting thing I’ve probably done in a long time, but it was a real joy”.
I also spoke to Laurence Noble, who played the role of Simon of Cyrene. He said he was nervous and pleased to see such a huge crowd and a good atmosphere. Meanwhile, Sarra Cooper, who played the role of young Mary, said she felt very emotional as she realised what a privilege it was seeing everyone who had come along to watch the Passion and being a part of a community cast, with the opportunity to tell this amazing story.
The whole scenario was a moment of joy and was such a beautiful experience for me and it’s a day I cannot forget in a hurry. To mark the end of Chester City Passion 2022, snacks and hot cross buns were shared, and everyone went home smiling.
For more information on the Chester City Passion, which is produced by Theatre in the Quarter together with Chester Mystery Plays, Link Up and Churches Together in Chester, visit https://chestermysteryplays.com/discover/citypassion/. And if you can’t wait until the next Chester City Passion, you can also find out more about Chester’s historic Mystery Plays at https://chestermysteryplays.com/. They are coming to Chester Cathedral next year.