Thursday, 21 April 2011


Today's Leicester Mercury carries an article about the Good Friday public event, "Christ in the Centre". Leicester has become world famous for its celebrations of events related to its faith and cultural communities, such as Diwali and Vaisakhi. I've often heard Leicester people complain that more fuss is made over the celebrations of the city's minority communities, than about anything that would be meaningful to the longer-standing communities. I've often heard them say that there is nothing done here for them. Well, this is one of those events that such people seem to forget, ignore or disregard. "Christ in the Centre" will be performed tomorrow for the ninth year in succession. And it will be followed by a very full and public programme of events celebrating St George's Day. 

I've never had the chance to see "Christ in the Centre" for myself; I hope I can catch some of it this time.

Thousands expected to see procession
By Kelly Pipes 

A dramatic recreation of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection will be performed in front of thousands in Leicester city centre on Good Friday. 

An estimated 10,000 people will gather to see the ninth Christ in the Centre passion play, which includes a procession from the Highcross shopping centre along High Street to Humberstone Gate. 

A cast of 45 amateur performers will open the Easter spectacle at 10am, in St Peter's Square at the Highcross. 

They will act out biblical stories on the theme of hospitality, which they have been rehearsing since the new year. 

Organiser Jonathan Wheeler said: "The square is a fabulous amphitheatre made to have drama performed in it. 

"The Testament stories will be performed against the backdrop of a new environment, quite an inspiring place to do it." 

The 30-minute series of plays feature miracles such as the feeding of the 5,000 and the turning of water into wine at the Wedding of Cana. 

After bringing the Old and New Testaments to life at Highcross, the actors will form a procession behind Jesus, who is played for the first time by actor Walt Kissack. 

The 33-year-old said: "The overriding feeling I have is excitement. 

"It's a performance and a coming together of people who want to share with the wider community a celebration of Easter." 

Organisers say the procession will be a joyful, musical re-enactment of Christ's arrival into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. 

It will be welcomed into Humberstone Gate by Leicester's Christian praise band, Resonance, who will take to the stage below the big screen. 

The music will be replaced by a sombre portrayal of the trial and Crucifixion of Christ, followed by a celebratory representation of the Resurrection at noon, which will then close the play. 

Mr Wheeler said: "The final scenes of the passion play can be a very inspiring, humbling, thought-provoking experience." 

"I come away feeling a wave of emotion. It's a very special event." 

The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, will open and close Christ in the Centre 2011 with a blessing. 

The event's organising committee, which also includes religious leaders from the Catholic and Methodist church, has fought to cover its costs this year and has been prompted to start fund-raising for 2012 as soon as this week's play is over. 

A mixture of professional and voluntary stewards have been trained to ensure things run smoothly and to hand out programmes on the day.

To find out more about Christ in the Centre, visit the Diocese of Leicester's website:

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