The Miracle play (or Pentecost, the musical)


It was a funny coincidence of events, really. Just before Christmas, we went to see a friend of ours performing in a pantomime. At the same time, Lesley was wondering what she could do for “Thy Kingdom come”, the annual C of E call to prayer. For the previous two years she had organised an art exhibition at St John’s, but felt it was time to do something different. The idea of writing and performing a miracle play about Pentecost came just as we turned our car into the driveway, coming home from the pantomime.

So, extensive internet research on what existed on this theme only produced a small fragment referring to Acts, Ch2, where the locals accused the disciples of being drunk as they emerged from their upstairs room speaking in tongues (or glossolalia if you want the technical term to help with the occasional crossword).

However, this, and a few more modern ideas, from the Life of Brian, for example, led to a script.

The venture then seemed to acquire a life of its own. We had our young artists at St Marks painting paper “flames” to hand out to the congregations. Lesley found short quotations from St Theresa and other, largely contemporary, theologians to stick on the back of them. I found myself in the role of producer, although once the rehearsals started, I did very little, as the cast effectively took over and the play blossomed into something much greater than the original concept.

It was a memorable and exhausting event. We did two performances on the 13th and two more on the 20th May. My thanks to everyone who took part, particularly the “Holy Spirits” Freya, Emilia and Tia (and their mums) who gave excellent performances and had a double dose of religion for two weeks running!

Possibly the lasting image I’ll take from it was the look of shock and astonishment on the faces of Alan and Lesley, our rectors, when the flip chart was produced and the congregation asked, “What has God ever done for You?” This memory is closely followed by the choreographed rendition of “Give me that Old-time religion” – maybe we should perform more hymns in this way!

I think we succeeded in getting the message of Pentecost across in a quite unexpected but effective way – a good combination of humour and a serious underlying message.

Bob Shatwell

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