2015 was the year for the Aberdeen Passion to try something different. Rather than seem to disappear in the year in between passion plays, we took to the road with a brand new short play. Pilate – A Man of Mistakes and Missed Opportunities played to audiences across the North-East. And now that the tour is complete, director Andrew Sykes looks back at the experience.
A lot of work by a lot of people goes into staging the Aberdeen Passion. It takes a while to recover too! And so that is why there is a two year gap between productions. But there have been many conversations about the possibility of doing something in the year between Passions. And so the seed of an idea for a short play based on one character from the Passion story grew. Why Pilate? The account of Pilate’s conversation with Jesus in John’s gospel seemed an interesting starting point for a look at the Easter story from a different viewpoint.
There are some well documented episodes in Pilate’s life but much is not known and even more has been invented over the centuries. But there was enough to begin to get a picture of his life and to get an understanding of why he acted the way he did. The account of his mistakes helped to start a story that would have Jesus’ trial at its centre.
It started out as a one man show, but after the first draft was written, I experimented with adding a second voice – a narrator or the Roman Emperor or perhaps the Governor of Syria who brought Pilate’s career to an end. But it was the Roman soldier, Pilate’s guard, someone who had been in Judea with him, who in the end provided the introduction and epilogue to the play. And we discover at the conclusion of the play that the soldier had become a follower of Jesus. This added an extra element to the story and hopefully was a connection to current audiences.
to stage the play eight times in different towns across the North East. But it was hugely encouraging to see audiences drawn into the story, to have conversations with folks after the shows and to be able to tell a well-known story in a new way. And although it seemed like a daunting challenge, it was great to go to a new place each time, be welcomed by new people and share an evening together. From the amazing cakes in Peterhead and Ellon, to the amazing turnout in Stonehaven where we almost ran out of space, to the atmospheric venues in Inverurie and Banchory, each performance brought its own enjoyment. A huge well done to Iain Bell, Robert McGregor, Paul Finch and Chris George for their great performances and a massive thanks to Adam Bolton and his helpers for providing sound and lighting.
I hope you had a chance to see the play, but if you missed it, there might be a chance to see a version of it in the future – watch this space!
More photographs of the production and rehearsals can be viewed on our Flickr Account.