Having just returned from rather a rather wet day, with over five hours spent outdoors in what would in dry conditions, be a glorious parkland setting, I am putting pen to paper to share with you my thoughts on a challenging day well spent witnessing the amateur drama, with just one professional actor, of The Life of Christ, an atmospheric open air play, set on the Wintershall Estate near Guildford. This dramatic portraying of The Life of Christ has been enacted for over fifteen years. There are also other dramas such as The Nativity. I understand it began about twenty-five years ago by the husband and wife owners of this working Estate, and is well supported, as I witnessed that day. They, with members of their family, take various parts in the play, also working behind the scenes.
This adventure began when, at prayer pastors one Friday, one of our team was talking about their pending visit to see this play, and as there was a spare seat on the coach, I was keen to accept, as it was something I had wanted to do for a long time. So laden with a folding seat, suitable rain wear and yes, even my wellies, which turned out to be a good choice, off we set at 7am, leaving Milford on Sea Baptist Church along with 16 others. We arrived just in time for the 10 am start, but many were held up due to the heavy traffic. We were greeted by many of the cast in their costumes, and immediately one felt a frisson of excitement. It was good to see many schools there with about 500 people attending, maybe more.
The play is set at different places around the parkland, and the audience move around to the different locations, such as a lake representing the River Jordan, etc. In the scene of the Shepherds, we had a flock of sheep with a well trained sheep dog who kept them under control. (Earlier in the morning, the sheep had scattered all over the Estate, but were finally rounded up before the performance began). There were also some lovely horses with ‘soldiers’ mounted. Other animals included a donkey and pigeons.
St Luke the Narrator, played by Phil Street, was excellent. You can feel the intense dedication of the actors, who, with children from Year 6 of the Dolphin School performed with much enthusiasm and energy. The cast is chosen from both Christians and those of other faiths and none, and as the Narrator, who loved telling this Bible story said, God loves us all, and everyone was welcome.
That morning, the low lying area where the first act was held, was flooded due to overnight rainstorms, but they worked hard to clear it in time for the start. After such torrential rain, the ground was very slippery, and as much running up and down steep slopes by the actors was involved; it could have been quite dangerous. Such dedication and their enthusiasm for telling the story of the Life of Christ and the atmosphere in which it was performed, was palpable. It is something I would do again and highly recommend if you get the opportunity. It was certainly reaffirming to spend the day with fellow Christians and share our thoughts on the way home.