Revd. Bill has an idea

In 2011 a daft idea came to me: what about a Passion Play in Havant?

It seemed like an idle dream but it was picked up by one or two people, notably by Geoff Paffett, who carried out a feasibility study to see whether the idea could become a reality. Over the next two years, in consultation with Havant Borough Council, we explored and discounted various venues, and focused on Havant Park. We also visited other Passion Play ventures such as those at Winchester and Southampton to learn from their experience.

In 2013 HPP was established as a charitable company limited by guarantee. We’re indebted to those who served as Directors of the company during that year: Ann Brown, Rubin Doppgima, Carol Lanham, Geoff Paffett, David Smith, Cathy Stevens, Linda Stimpson, Bill Stillwell and Elaine Wood. We’re also immensely grateful to all those who served on the Implementation Committee during that period to take the actions necessary to mount the drama. Almost none of those involved had any experience of drama production, so we contacted various local drama companies, both professional and amateur, to see whom we might engage to help and guide us.

In January 2015 we were incredibly fortunate to be able to enlist the services of actor, writer and director James Burke-Dunsmore, of Trafalgar Square and Wintershall fame, seen here perched on a hay bale with fellow actor Robert O'Shea at the 2014 HPP fundraiser barbecue. He agreed to train us and enable us to mount a production of ‘Havant Passion Play’ in Havant Park on 12th and 13th August of that year. The response, in terms of emotional impact as well as numbers was overwhelming.

Those of us involved in the initial stages had only the 2015 performances in view: we couldn’t have known that the experience of that year would generate a lot of on-going relationships amongst people from all walks of life and beliefs through social and worship events throughout the year. As a result, a production of different parts of Christ’s life was mounted in 2017 and a third play in August 2019 looked at the story from a different angle.

Since we began we’ve been fortunate to have on our Board of Directors a number who have since had to retire: Mary Close, Pauline Kaznowski, Martin McGranahan & Derek Philips. There simply isn’t time or space to mention all those who’ve tirelessly worked behind the scenes without public mention. We’re grateful to each and everyone for turning a daft idea into a real Christian experience and a way of drawing our community