Alternative Jesus play to feature Oasis, Smiths and Happy Mondays

Alternative Jesus play to feature Oasis, Smiths and Happy Mondays

By staff writers
27 Jan 2006

Alternative Jesus play to feature Oasis, Smiths and Happy Mondays

-27/01/06

An alternative Passion this Easter in which pop performers will dramatise the last hours of the life of Christ with the misery-laden lyrics of bands from Oasis to The Smiths, is being produced by the BBC.

Coming in the tradition of the York Mystery Plays, where popular culture was incorporated into the Biblical drama, the corporation is to stage an hour-long "contemporary retelling" of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus on Good Friday, where the streets of Manchester standing in for Jerusalem.

It will be broadcast live on BBC 3 reports the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The event will be accompanied by an orchestral score incorporating songs by a number of bands produced by the city over the past 30 years.

The newspaper reports that amongst the songs are Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now by The Smiths, and the hit Wonderwall by Oasis.

The BBC is recruiting performers from groups such as the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays to play Jesus, the disciples, the Virgin Mary and Pontius Pilate.

Bez, a former tambourine-bashing member of the Happy Mondays and a winner of Celebrity Big Brother, is expected to be one of the disciples, but the BBC said that it was too early to announce other names.

The drama, called the Manchester Passion, will begin with the performers playing Jesus and the disciples, dressed in contemporary clothes, at the Last Supper, sitting on a wall in a Manchester street.

Much of the action is expected to take place near Manchester's gay and red light area close to Canal Street as the group "process" towards Albert Square in the city centre.

Reports suggest that during the Last Supper, the character playing Jesus will sing Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Meanwhile, the Judas figure, knowing he is about to betray Jesus, sings the downbeat anthem by The Smiths, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now.

In the Garden of Gesthemene, which will take place in a Manchester park, Jesus sings Sit Down by James as he prays alone, and then duets with Judas - Blue Monday by New Order - as he is arrested by performers dressed as police officers.

As the group converges on Albert Square in the centre of the city, a separate crowd of people carrying a 25ft-long, white cross will arrive from the other side of the city.

The trial of Jesus by Pontius Pilate will be accompanied by the singing of Wonderwall by Oasis, the chorus of which goes:
"I said maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me?
And after all
You're my wonderwall."

The Virgin Mary will express her emotions at the foot of the cross in the song Search For the Hero by M People, which featured in a recent car advertisement.

At the climax of the programme, the resurrected Christ will appear on the roof of Manchester town hall and, if the draft script is followed, will belt out a reprise of Wonderwall.

The event has gained the broad support of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in the area.

Canon Robin Gamble, the Canon Evangelist at Manchester cathedral, said that people who were easily offended were trying to "wrap God in cotton wool".

The canon said: "God is a big boy. He can take care of himself.

"This is contemporary, it's urban, it's relevant, it's on the street. I support it 100 per cent."

Gillian Oliver, a spokesman for the Manchester diocese, said that the Church would be encouraging Christians to participate.

"We are working with the BBC on this and are very pleased to be taking the good news of the gospel on to the streets of Manchester," she said.

"If anything, something like this can translate the old story into new terms."

The score for the Manchester Passion, which has been produced by the corporation's classical music television department, has been composed by Philip Sheppard, the professor of cello at the Royal Academy of Music, who has collaborated with the likes of the pop stars Oasis and David Bowie.

Mr Sheppard sad that it was in the tradition of the York Mystery Plays, where popular culture was incorporated into the Biblical drama.

"Bach, Mozart and Stravinsky all worked what could be called the popular music of the day into their compositions," he said.

An alternative Passion this Easter in which pop performers will dramatise the last hours of the life of Christ with the misery-laden lyrics of bands from Oasis to The Smiths, is being produced by the BBC.

Coming in the tradition of the York Mystery Plays, where popular culture was incorporated into the Biblical drama, the corporation is to stage an hour-long "contemporary retelling" of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus on Good Friday, where the streets of Manchester standing in for Jerusalem.

It will be broadcast live on BBC 3 reports the Daily Telegraph newspaper.

The event will be accompanied by an orchestral score incorporating songs by a number of bands produced by the city over the past 30 years.

The newspaper reports that amongst the songs are Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now by The Smiths, and the hit Wonderwall by Oasis.

The BBC is recruiting performers from groups such as the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays to play Jesus, the disciples, the Virgin Mary and Pontius Pilate.

Bez, a former tambourine-bashing member of the Happy Mondays and a winner of Celebrity Big Brother, is expected to be one of the disciples, but the BBC said that it was too early to announce other names.

The drama, called the Manchester Passion, will begin with the performers playing Jesus and the disciples, dressed in contemporary clothes, at the Last Supper, sitting on a wall in a Manchester street.

Much of the action is expected to take place near Manchester's gay and red light area close to Canal Street as the group "process" towards Albert Square in the city centre.

Reports suggest that during the Last Supper, the character playing Jesus will sing Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Meanwhile, the Judas figure, knowing he is about to betray Jesus, sings the downbeat anthem by The Smiths, Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now.

In the Garden of Gesthemene, which will take place in a Manchester park, Jesus sings Sit Down by James as he prays alone, and then duets with Judas - Blue Monday by New Order - as he is arrested by performers dressed as police officers.

As the group converges on Albert Square in the centre of the city, a separate crowd of people carrying a 25ft-long, white cross will arrive from the other side of the city.

The trial of Jesus by Pontius Pilate will be accompanied by the singing of Wonderwall by Oasis, the chorus of which goes:
"I said maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me?
And after all
You're my wonderwall."

The Virgin Mary will express her emotions at the foot of the cross in the song Search For the Hero by M People, which featured in a recent car advertisement.

At the climax of the programme, the resurrected Christ will appear on the roof of Manchester town hall and, if the draft script is followed, will belt out a reprise of Wonderwall.

The event has gained the broad support of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in the area.

Canon Robin Gamble, the Canon Evangelist at Manchester cathedral, said that people who were easily offended were trying to "wrap God in cotton wool".

The canon said: "God is a big boy. He can take care of himself.

"This is contemporary, it's urban, it's relevant, it's on the street. I support it 100 per cent."

Gillian Oliver, a spokesman for the Manchester diocese, said that the Church would be encouraging Christians to participate.

"We are working with the BBC on this and are very pleased to be taking the good news of the gospel on to the streets of Manchester," she said.

"If anything, something like this can translate the old story into new terms."

The score for the Manchester Passion, which has been produced by the corporation's classical music television department, has been composed by Philip Sheppard, the professor of cello at the Royal Academy of Music, who has collaborated with the likes of the pop stars Oasis and David Bowie.

Mr Sheppard sad that it was in the tradition of the York Mystery Plays, where popular culture was incorporated into the Biblical drama.

"Bach, Mozart and Stravinsky all worked what could be called the popular music of the day into their compositions," he said.

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