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Becoming a Chief Priest

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One day, somebody approached me and asked me to be a Chief Priest.

Quite taken aback, I paused to see who it was. Turned out that he was the Director/Producer of the coming Passion Play for Good Friday and he was looking for actors and that there would be a practice that coming afternoon.

Well, this was something new to me, but since I was free, I agreed to come for the first practice session with the frame of mind of “come and see” as an invitation from Jesus in John 1:39

Author as Chief Priest

So began my role as an actor of a Chief Priest in the Passion Play of my church. Since that first practice session, there were many more. The practices were usually done on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. There were also some additional online video conference sessions to polish up the dialogue and vocal tone emphasis as well as physical rehearsals on some weekdays as Good Friday drew nearer.

Through the guidance of our expert performing arts directors, we went through voice projection training, physical exercises, stage movements, tonal emphasis and rehearsing the various scenes and movements.

In the background, there were also team members who prepared the costumes, props, stage lighting, sound and special effects.

Throughout the four weeks of training, I made new friends and was also astonished by some hidden talents that some were able to display with their acting. I could feel the friendliness and the love in the air as everyone did their best to make the Gospel passage come alive.

During the rehearsals, there were many corrections to iron out the nitty-gritty arrangement details of the scenes as the practices progressed towards the final stage. As actors we had to repeat the scenes many times until the directors felt it was just right. Sometimes, the sound of voices were too soft. Sometimes, the actions were not satisfactory. Sometimes, the positioning of actors or the props were not satisfactory. Sometimes, the directors wanted to change the movement of the actors. It was tiring, but nobody complained as all of us wanted to do our best.

garden of gethsemane

A scene at the garden of Gethsemane.

I could see the mood becoming more exciting for all as we approached the full dress rehearsal. Coupled with mood lighting, sound effects and props like wooden cross, and a real heavy anchoring stone block, it really amazed me to witness such sparks of ingenuity from the producer. By then, I could see more people who were involved in videography, sound system, video projection, spot-lighting, mood lighting, even smoke generation setting up and testing their equipment.

Well, all the costumes match the roles of the respective actors. The uniforms of the soldiers were really impressive, complete with helmet, armor, cape and wrist/shin protectors. The costumes for the priests were equally impressive, colorful with flowing robes. Kudos to the costume designer for matching all the colorful pieces in an eye-catching manner.

In our practice sessions, we were told as actors to live and become that character so that our acting and emotions could become more realistic as we acted it out.

By being immersed in the situation of the passion, the Gospel became alive for me as a person who witnessed and participated first hand in the passion event. It was happening right before my eyes and I was part of it. It really touches my heart to reflect on what I would have done if I really were there at that time.

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