LOCKDOWN has not prevented the Riding Lights Theatre Company from devising a new Passion play for its audiences, as it has done every Easter for the past 40 years.
Touring projects in the pipeline for 2021 have had to be deferred temporarily. But, in the year since last March, the company has continued to create new work and adapt existing work to the screen, including filming sketches for the online Spring Harvest Home, and running a wholly online summer school for 80 participants.
Its 2019 Christmas production, The Selfish Giant, was watched by 28,000 children and 1000 families in the lead up to Christmas 2020, and the company is preparing a suite of online resources for churches and a wider audience.
The new play, Breaking Day, by Les Ellison, views the events of Good Friday through the eyes of Pontius Pilate, his wife, Claudia, and Hannah, a Jewish servant in their household. The play is described as “intimate and gripping, surprisingly political and with great resonance for the world today”.
It is the summation of all the new skills and techniques that the company has had to learn. This is not a live performance filmed, but a play rehearsed on Zoom and separately filmed by the three actors themselves. “They have taken a real leap of faith working for us, but were all very keen to do it,” the company administrator, Bethan Gibb-Reid, said on Tuesday. “Riding Lights isn’t becoming a film company any time soon — we all love live theatre too much and that’s what we primarily feel called to do.
“But you can’t ignore the fact that the world has become more digital through the pandemic. It has also been important to us in terms of inclusion. We have reached audiences who might not have been able to attend our live performances.”
She describes Mr Ellison’s script, which has been slightly reworked for the new format, as “the right script coming at the right time. That’s always lovely — that moment when God kind of drops it into your lap.”
It will be available to church groups from 15 March to 15 April, and to individuals from 19 March to 15 April.
For booking details, visit www.ridinglights.org