News and Articles

12 March 2018

Bringing the Easter story to life in Southampton

Neil Maddock Neil Maddock Writer and Director, Passion Retold
Passion Retold Crowd

Neil Maddock, the writer of Passion Retold, tells us why he is excited to be bringing the Easter story to life in the heart of our city in the Guildhall Square on Good Friday.

Not the same story again…

Twice a year in the Christian calendar we tell the same stories. In December it’s the Nativity: shepherds, wise men, baby Jesus and of course the donkey. At Easter, it’s the Passion story: the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Nothing changes about these stories, in fact that’s the power and strength of them - they’re consistent and have stood the test of time. They don’t need to be altered to make them any better, they just need re-telling in a way that will engage a modern audience – that’s my opinion anyway.

My calling is to creatively communicate the Christian faith and I am passionate about portraying the essence of Christianity. The stories we read in the Bible – of historical characters who have made a difference because of their faith – can make a difference in people’s lives today. I am passionate about portraying these stories in new ways that will attract an audience and make them realise that this God that we speak and shout about can make a difference today.

So that is why we’re staging Passion Retold, that is why we’re doing the Easter story again, because we believe the Easter story needs to be heard by the people of Southampton. For many, entering a church can be daunting or scary. It’s great, therefore, that at Easter, we get to take the resurrection story of Jesus out of a physical church building and into the heart of our city!

Why Guildhall Square?

I have a bit of an affinity to the Square. It was back in 2009 that I sensed God giving me the vision to stage a large outdoor Passion play in that space, which was remarkable because at that time it was a building site. Literally, dirt and mud everywhere, new buildings being constructed and the old Tyrell and Greens being demolished. ‘Really God?’, ‘Are you sure you’ve got your coordinates right?’

But in 2011 we staged the Southampton Passion and saw 9,000 people fill that space and witness the truth of the Christian gospel being played out before their eyes.

In 2012, we went indoors for the Nativity Musical… well, it was December. In 2014, we staged a Christmas in the Square event, with live music, carol singing and a gospel message. Then in 2016 we were back for Passion Retold; an SCN event that I was privileged to be asked to co-ordinate the creative elements of.

Last month I was in the Square again as the Nuffield Theatre opened their new venue, and I had a sense of pride and belonging in that space. I believe God wants his people and his church out in the Square celebrating the Good News of the Christian faith this Easter. And I believe we’ll be back there in the future re-telling other stories that will engage people with the Christian faith.

Everyone plays a part in the Passion

There may only be 10 actors and our fantastic live band on the stage this Good Friday, but that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

There has already been a dedicated team of people working hard to plan the logistics of the event, liaising with the City Council, working with contractors to get the best deals on equipment hire, risk assessments ... and more. There have been those promoting the event so that we get as many people as possible along to witness the Good News being portrayed and many more people that have already done so much.

But where do you fit in? What’s your part? Well, I’m glad you asked! Your part is the most important because we need you to Pray, Provide and Promote – the three P’s.

Pray for the Passion – pray for the cast, the band, the tech crew; that God will anoint them and enable them to do their parts well and honour God with their talents. Pray for those non-church people that will come; pray that their hearts and minds will be opened and they will receive a revelation of who God is to them. Pray for the weather, pray for protection, pray for the praise and worship time… pray for Gordon Tuck, Pastor at Testwood Baptist Church as he shares the gospel message.

Provide for the Passion – putting on an event that is high-quality and honouring to God costs money, we cannot escape that fact. If you’re in a position to help provide financial support for this event please get in touch and be part of making the Passion Retold happen. This is an investment in the Kingdom of God as we seek to bring more people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

Promote the Passion – tell people about it and invite them. Tell, friends, your neighbours, your work colleagues, your postman, your students, your patients, your clients – basically, tell everyone you come into contact with! Hand out flyers, point them to the website or Facebook page and offer to take them with you, to be there with them. Think and pray about who you can invite and then be brave, take that step and ask them along.

It may be the same Easter story as every year, but it’s just as important now as it’s ever been. Don’t miss out on Passion Retold.

Passion Retold will take place in Guildhall Square on Good Friday, 30th March 2018. Live music will begin at 10:30am with the performance starting at 11:30am.



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