Written and Directed by - Ann Balaam
The Poole Passion production of Footsteps
was first performed from 5th to 9th April 2022
in the beautiful St Peter's Church, Poole.
A spectacular production with atmospheric lighting by Conical Sphere and emotive live music by Richard McLester, synchronising his music with the actors movement on stage.
With a cast of 38, a director, assistant director, stage manager and her assistant, a musician and composer, lighting technicians, plus all the marketing and administration involved in putting on a production of this scale, Footsteps was a wonderful achievement by all the cast and crew. The feedback forms the audience wrote after each performance were flooded with praise for the acting, directing, music and lighting.
Rehearsals began in October 2021 and each week until April, everyone worked diligently on the play, regardless of how large or small their role, from the technical lighting and music crew, to the director and assistant director, producer and stage manager and all the huge cast. People from all backgrounds and beliefs, all coming together with a passion to perform...The Passion.
Such dedication from the cast and production team produced a play that had audiences 'mesmerised', to use their own words.
The story of Footsteps is centred around a group of tourists in modern day Jerusalem who visit the sacred sites and are transported back in time and see the last days of Jesus' life, gain inspiration from his wisdom, and ultimately witness his crucifixion and resurrection.
The play, exquisitely woven together by Ann Balaam, also allowed for the people of these two parallel timelines to occasionally interact.
Jesus was played by actor Paul Stillwell, who by his own admission, spent many months researching outwardly and inwardly to discover the character of Jesus within him, and received great praise each night from audiences and fellow actors. Accompanied by a powerful and heartfelt performance from Clive Balaam as Pontius Pilate. Portraying Pilate's lust for power and yet unable to betray his true feelings that Jesus was a man of love and peace as he declares 'I find no fault with this man, this man is innocent'.
Then there was Judas, played delicately by Tim Drage. Portraying Judas's love for Jesus whilst being torn between his heart and his mind as he releases Jesus to his destiny, in a touching and understanding moment as he says 'Peace be with you teacher' and Jesus replies 'Be quick about it, my friend.'
The same internal conflict was portrayed wonderfully by Richard Brown as King Herod, torn between ego and the heart, seeking forgiveness for his weekness. This was contrasted by the loving and passionate performance of Mary of Magdelena by Manina Trickett, and the warm, gentle Mary mother of Jesus, by Janet Burrows. Also a heart wrenching monologue by Ann Bessant as Mary mother of James and John, as she laments the crucifixion of Jesus.
There was a very notable appearance by actor Steve McCarthy, who is in fact blind, and performed Chief Priest Caiaphas with great power and confidence alongside Roy de la Mer, Russell Herridge and Robert Southam as the accompanying power hungry priests. These obstinate priests were contrasted by a beautiful tender moment as the timelines merge when tourist 'Sam' (played beautifully by Beryl Barianna) cautiously approaches Jesus, as she receives a gentle blessing from him, her disbelief in the power of love and forgiveness is turned into faith.
The Poole Passion production team were also called upon to play cameo roles in the play with director Ann Balaam, stage manager Hannah Stockley and assistant director Stuart Glossop playing tourists to open the play, with a wonderful, skillful combination of scripted and improvised acting. Alongside producer Jan Miller as a tourist and Passion Play newcomers Clair James and her son Noah, Sally Bedborough, Caleb Lockett, and a special mention to Joe Burgess who stepped in at late notice to perform the most demanding role of the Tour Guide. All performing their roles with such apparent ease and professionalism, due in no small measure to their months of dedication.
Stuart Glossop also produced a powerful moment as a Guardian Spirit visiting Jesus during his moment of anguish in the garden of Gethsemane and a fleeting, but poignant meeting at his resurrection.
Stuart also played Jesus in the 2014 production and on one evening we were also joined by actor Jamie Derrick, who played Jesus in 2018, playing two cameo roles as a disciple and a Roman Soldier. Essentially having 3 actors on stage who have or are 'being' Jesus.
Actor Paul Stillwell says:
"Few actors are blessed to be offered the role of Jesus, and I was blessed not only to play Him, but to perform with such wonderful, dedicated actors and production team in a very supportive and encouraging environment, led by the skill and unerring patience and dedication of director Ann Balaam, in the beautiful St Peter's church (thanks to the kindness of Rev Mike Trottman), in a production that, according to the feedback from the audiences, had them 'mesmerised' and touched them deeply, some saying they have never cried at a play before, but our production moved them to tears."
Below is a video montage of photos from the 2022 production, including brief film footage of the final scene (filmed from the audience perspective).
Accompanied by music composed and performed by Richard McLester
(see 'Music & Lighting' page for information about Richard).
The video includes photos of comments from the audience, on our feedback forms after performances.
(Apologies for the sound quality in the final scene, our videographer had to pull out at the last minute due to a family emergency and so we could only obtain footage from an audience member).
Through Their Eyes
A year earlier in 2021, actor Tim Drage (Judas) devised an idea to promote the play with a series of monologues that would be played on a projection screen to people attending St Peter's Church and to Poole Passion followers online...
Four actors from the production would write and perform their own monologue, separate from the Footsteps script, with the premise of each character being interviewed many years after the events of the play, reflecting on their lives.
Entitled Through Their Eyes.
Below are the four monologues...
On the Radio
Director Ann Balaam and actors Manina Trickett, Beryl Barianna and June Davis, plus composer Richard McLester were interviewed live on Hope FM about the production.
Listen to the interview below.
Some more wonderful photos that weren't included in the video montage...
Jesus and Mother Mary
Jesus before the Sanhedrin
Jesus and Mother Mary
Mary, mother of James, laments
Mary of Magdelena and Mary mother of James, seek Jesus in the tomb
The Resurrection of Christ
"I will be with you always, even until the end of time."