On Good Friday, the Easter story will be acted out on the streets of Chester in a combined performance by Chester Mystery Plays, Churches Together in Chester, Link Up, and Theatre in the Quarter. Starting at the Cross at 1030am with Jesus’ entry to Jersusalem and the Last Supper, the performance will end an hour later at the west door of the Cathedral with the crucifixion. Featuring the music of Matt Baker, as used in the last three cycles of the Mystery Plays, Roman soldiers and the popular Karamba Samba band will also feature.
We spoke Nick Sherratt, who will be playing Jesus :
How did you get the role of Jesus and are you daunted by playing such an important role?
I actually first heard about the idea for the Chester City Passion through an email from a friend just before Christmas 2015, who was asking if I was interested. My immediate response was ‘yes yes yes, I’ve wanted to be involved in something like this at Easter for years!’ Chester is such an amazing city with a rich culture and heritage and I love seeing that grow and develop and so jumped at the opportunity to be involved.
Auditions were held for the Chester City Passion on the 1st February this year and I feel incredibly blessed and humbled to have been given the part of Jesus to play. Obviously the role of God’s Son is not the simplest of tasks but is an honour.
What I find the most daunting is trying to fully understand Jesus’ motivation throughout the passion narratives. There are moments of intense humanity that Jesus shows, and others that remind us that he is also God – it is the latter I find the most difficult to fully understand. In the bible it is the apostle Paul that says, ‘who can know the mind of the Lord’. If I am able to communicate the immense burden and pain that Jesus carried balanced with the joy that is set before him of rescuing humanity, then I will be more than satisfied with my performance. Also I’m not looking forward to the whole flogging and crucifixion part, and am regularly praying for a warm sunny day….
What can people expect when they come to see Chester City Passion?
If people have seen the Chester Mystery Plays in the past you will have an idea of what is to come. We have used an amalgamation of past scripts to bring this performance to the public. It’s an incredible testament to Matt Baker who is directing this production that he is able to create such a spectacle in such a short amount of time. The rehearsals are currently well underway and everything is taking shape. You can expect to see the pages of the Bible come to life right in the fabric of our city supported by some fantastic actors and singers.
Can you tell us about your prior acting experiences and how you became an actor?
Growing up in the City of Chester I have had the good fortune to work with Matt Baker before in Jigsaw Music Theatre and Theatre in the Quarter. He is an incredibly talented and inspirational person, and Chester is seriously blessed that he chooses to stay and develop the arts in this city. He inspires so many young people to grow in their confidence through drama and music.
After I left high school I began working with the B-It Theatre Company in Hoole, where I was given the opportunities of directing under 18’s in some adapted Shakespeare productions. There was a fantastic ethos at B-It where the theatre skills that young people were equipped in were second only to the opportunity to help them grow in their confidence. Supporting teenagers to have a healthy self-esteem hasn’t stopped since I moved on from working with the B-It theatre company. I am now a youth worker at Northgate Church, and work for Chester Schools Christian Work, where a key aim is to see the young people in Chester grow up to have the best life that they could have, and be resilient to the storms of life that try and take that away.
I think that the church should be involved in the life of the city and the Chester City Passion provides a perfect opportunity. It’s more common place for us to think of nativity stories being produced, but not so much performances that remind us of the Easter story and it’s incredible to see so many congregations across the city want to support this production. With the weight and gravitas that the Chester Mystery Plays bring, working with the congregations that are a part of Link Up and Churches Together in Chester, it is going to be a fantastic performance, which I hope we shall see replicated and grow in years to come. There is a fantastic spirit of unity amongst the churches working together in this city, and it is great to see that put into action through the story of the very man who brings us all together; Jesus.
The Chester Passion , Good Friday 25 March 1030 The Cross