Saturday, 24 December 2011

Donations Update

Since the last update we've had a further £3600 making the total to date: £5645 with £2500 due around 1 April from Kendal Town Council.

Latest donations from:
  • Kendal Stricklandgate Methodist Church
  • Kendal Ecumenical group
  • Managing Trustees of Gillinggate Mission Hall
  • Cumbria Community Foundation Holehird Trust
  • South Lakeland Children and Young People's Work Group
Thanks to all the generous donors!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Internship in Event Management

Kendal Community Theatre is seeking an intern, from the historic county of Westmorland,to work with the directorial team – Director and Production Manager – of A Passion for Kendal, an original community passion play to be performed in Kendal on 6th & 7th April 2012.

The intern will work for a period of between 1 and 3 months coordinating the fringe events taking place around the production.

This position would suit a newly-qualified or soon to be qualified person in an appropriate arts discipline.

Job description

The internship will be to organise the fringe and group activities that will accompany the production. It will be an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in large-scale event management. The range of fringe events/activities will be determined by the directing team in conjunction with the Intern but may include dance groups, street performers and food stalls.

The major part of the intern’s work will be to coordinate the siting, scheduling and, where necessary, licensing of the fringe events. As the Passion Play will take place in several locations it will be essential that fringe events are not performing simultaneously.

Person Specification

  • Highly motivated self-starter
  • Effective communications skills
  • High level of initiative and ability to work as part of a team.
  • Able to work independently, seeking advice when necessary. 
  • Able to work under pressure with evidence of ability to prioritise workload appropriately.
  • Evidence of interest in, and participation in, an arts discipline.
  • Available to work during the period January to early April 2012.


  • The intern will be paid reasonable travelling expenses and provided with an allowance for lunches.
  • Working expenses – e.g. photocopying; computer supplies; telephone costs will be agreed in advance.
  • The intern will not be required to pay for any production costs in advance
  • The intern will be expected to work reasonable hours, some of which will be in the evening, and will be expected to organise his/her time.
  • During the week of production, the week before and the week after, there is likely to be a heavy time commitment which will include anti-social hours and evening work.
  • Time management will be part of the process and the intern will be managed by the production director so that the work-load is planned in advance and not excessive.

A more detailed job specification and work pattern and will be agreed after the appointment is made to make best use of the skills of the intern.


To apply for the internship please send a CV and cover letter detailing why you are suitable for the position

The Internship will be advertised locally – principally around Kendal and South Lakeland and the former county of Westmorland. A Passion for Kendal is conceived as a community project and Kendal Community Theatre would want to give preference to local young people seeking a career in any branch of the performing and creative arts.

To learn more or for an informal discussion about the internship contact:

Chris Taylor
Director, Kendal Community Theatre

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Christmas Thank You

A copy of a letter to the Westmorland Gazette:

Dear Sir

On behalf of Kendal Community Theatre, may I, through your columns, thank all those who have contributed with enormous generosity to the Kendal Passion Play, A Passion for Kendal. We have received massive support from Cumbria County Council, South Lakeland District Council, Kendal Town Council, businesses, traders, community groups, churches and other religious organisations.  In keeping with the Christmas season, all will receive thank you letters and acknowledgements in forthcoming publicity.

The response of people across the area indicates a genuine desire for Community activity, showing that the decision to mount a Community Play was well worth making. As well as financial support, we have offers of rehearsal space (heated!), refreshments for cast, singers and technicians, storage space, fabric for costumes wood for crosses and much else besides. As there will be well over 100 people involved in all aspects of the performance, these are extremely valuable and generous offers, and the production team is hugely grateful to the whole community.  

In return, actors, writers, musicians, designers and techies are giving hours of their time and creativity to make sure that the show – in April next year will – be a truly memorable, exciting and above all, community-based project for everybody.

Thank you to everyone, come and see a fabulous production next year, and a very happy Christmas to Kendal, South Lakeland and Cumbria,

Yours sincerely

Chris Taylor



Cash donations so far received from:

St George's Church drama group
United Reformed Church
Churches Together in Kendal and District
Doodleshire Partnership
Bishop of Carlisle
Katy Whenray's Quiz night
The Bryan Lancaster Trust

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Cast List

John Willshaw

David Hales

Scribe 1
Richard Mathews

Scribe 2
Katy Whenray

Joseph the Arimathean,
Graham Hall

Judas the Iscariot, from Kerioth in Judah
Stephen Lockwood

Temple police 1
Linda Reynolds

Temple police 2
Liz Hawthorne

Roman Centurion
Ken Tulley

Roman Sergeant
Phil Ellwood

Roman Soldier
Sam Vyner-Brooks

Roman Soldier
Tony Lang

Roman Soldier – Pilate’s escort
Dorothy Bailey

Roman Soldier – Pilate’s escort
Jacqui Isherwood

Mary, Mother of Jesus
Janet Warriner

Mary Magdala
Danielle Oliver

Elizabeth Long

Mary, Mother of James and John
Kathleen Shaw

Sue Hall

Jesus the Galilean, from the town of Nazareth
Jonathan Brook

Richard Sutton

Liz Lockwood

Jacquetta Gomes

Robber 1 – Dysmas
Duggie Reid

Robber 2 – Gestas
Tony Reynolds

Jesus Bar Rabbas
Peter Barker


Pontius Pilate
Jeff Thomas

Simon of Cyrene
Nigel Rice

Young man/Angel
Duggie Reid

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Singers Wanted

Your chance to be involved in this major street theatre event.

A community choir will be formed to sing a specially written ‘Exultat’ composed by Roland Fudge (words by Guy Wilson of the Armed Man). This will be performed as part of the second act of the drama at Kendal Castle on Saturday 7th April.

Conductor: Anna Ridding

Rehearsals at Stricklandgate Methodist Church:

Mondays: February 27th, March 5th, 26th, April 2nd 7.30 - 9 pm
Sunday: 11th, 18th March at 3 - 4.30 pm.
 Wednesday: 4th April at 7.30pm

For more information contact Anne Pater e-mail Ann

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Last Kendal Passion Play

It has been said that next year’s Passion Play, to be performed in the streets of central Kendal and at the Castle at the Easter weekend, is the first passion play in the town for 400 years. But what and when was the last one?

Many towns in England had their own locally-produced “Mystery” plays, performed on set occasions from medieval times through to the end of the 16th Century, often in the open air, at festival times such as Easter, Christmas and Whitsuntide.  These plays represented, in a popular form (often with comic interludes) various events described in the Bible, including a play or plays on the passion of Jesus from trial to crucifixion and resurrection. They came to be put on mainly by members of guilds, or craft associations, each guild having one or more story to tell in its play.

These plays could be performed at any time of year, though festival times, when both performers and audiences were more likely to be available, were the most popular occasions.
Often a whole series of mystery plays – so called because of the “mystery” or craft of the guild members – would be produced in sequence over several days at this time, and they were great events in the towns and villages which had them.

One of the most important of these festivals was Corpus Christi (“The Body of Christ”). This festival, observed today by the Roman Catholic church and some Anglican and other denominations, celebrates a belief in the actual presence, in mystical form, of the body and blood of Jesus in the bread and wine at each holy communion service. The plays were not exclusively performed at Corpus Christi time (varying between late May and late June), though they usually kept the name.

Kendal’s Corpus Christi “play”, which would have been a series of plays as in other towns, was very well-known and people came from miles around to watch them. There was great resistance when, in 1534, the government tried to ban their performance. This followed the establishment of the Church of England, and the authorities believed that the plays helped keep “the old religion” (Roman Catholicism) in the minds of the populace at a time when Protestantism was being officially and firmly promoted. There was also a very strong hostility from the puritan element in the Reformation to the practice of impersonating Biblical figures on public stages. The campaign was relentless and some cities caved in, but the defiant persistence of this religious folk-drama in Kendal is remarkable. During the years following the ban, it was enforced, sometimes slackly, sometimes rigorously, and local landowners and civic leaders could be imprisoned for permitting the plays to take place, with punishment no doubt for the performers. Between 1570 and 1580 the plays were finally put down in all the major cities. But not in Kendal!

The Kendal Corpus Christi group of plays were famous throughout a very wide area. Records show that the town council was very nervous but recognised that the “common inhabitants…covertly and earnestly cry for the … play yearly to be had, used, and played here as in former times”. A law decreed that the Alderman might not permit the play to be performed by his own decision, but only if it were agreed by the town council. That does not seem to be an absolute prohibition, and indeed in 1600 or 1601 payment is recorded as having been made for the paving of the street “where the play was”.

But it could not last for ever in defiance of central government, and after government  commissioners had turned up in 1605 to make enquiries, the annual religious play in Kendal finally came to an end. So the answer to the question of “when?” posed at the beginning of this article is that the last time a Passion Play was presented in Kendal (for one of the Corpus Christi plays would have been on the passion theme) was in 1605 or thereabouts, ending a tradition of several hundred years.

The effect of these plays on the ordinary man in the street is illustrated by the memoirs of John Shaw, a Lancashire vicar who assisted in pastoral care in Cartmel. In 1644 he interviewed an old man in the parish. Shaw says that the man was sensible in most things, but what we learn from that interview tells us of the great impression made by the Kendal play, and no doubt by other such plays.  Shaw says:

“I told him that I desired to be informed of his knowledge of religion, and asked him….how he thought to be saved? He answered, he could not tell….I told him that the way to Salvation was by Jesus Christ, God and man, who, as man, shed his blood for us on the Cross. ‘Oh Sir (said he) I think I heard of that man you speak of, once in a play at Kendal, called Corpus-Christi play, where there was a man on a tree, and blood ran down’, etc. And after, he professed, that though he was a good churchman, and constantly went to Common Prayer, yet he could not remember that ever he heard of salvation by Jesus but in that play.”

Next year’s passion play, “A Passion for Kendal”, is a community project, not sponsored by any church, but it would be gratifying to find in the years ahead that some aspect of its drama remained so firmly in the memories of its spectators!

David Hales
       (with acknowledgments to Professor Philip Edwards)