Passion - a contemporary journey to the cross, is a performance created and directed by Claire Henderson Davis. Using the poet Malcolm Guite's sonnets on the Stations of the Cross as a framework, the piece offers a contemporary re-imagining of the passion story in dance, poetry and music with the feminine and sexual love as symbols of the divine in a duet between God the Lover and God the Beloved. Passion, originally performed at Ely Cathedral on Palm Sunday 2014, has since completed a highly acclaimed UK-wide Cathedrals tour, which culminated at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, where it was filmed. The film, supported by St Paul’s Cathedral, London, York Minster, Christ Church, Oxford and Portsmouth Cathedrals is due for release in time for Lent 2016.
I have no doubt at all that this realisation of the Passion story is one of the most creative pieces of liturgical theatre around. It works simply as theatre – that is, it is coherently conceived, physically well-shaped, emotionally engaging and challenging in a very high degree; but it is also a genuinely liturgical process, involving group movement and the fresh use of an historic spiritual space. It has quite clearly impressed a variety of audiences enormously, and I believe that it needs to be far more widely known and studied – both as a performance in its own right and as a model for work in this area that is unsentimental and demanding, and also deeply rooted in traditions of reflection and worship. Personally, I found it constantly surprising, posing without obtruding a number of deep questions about gender and power as well as the more obvious challenge of the Passion narrative in words and actions. It grows out of an unusual intensity of thought about the nature and the future of liturgy. It is, in short, a genuinely significant piece and I would strongly support any ways of making it more widely available.
- Rowan Williams, 3 July 2015
Photos: Larisa Dizdar
Passion Tour Celebrations Photos: Larisa Dizdar