Christ in the Centre 2011 took place for the 9th year running on Good Friday, which this year fell on the 22nd of April. It was a huge success, with Leicester town centre packed with people enjoying the performance in the sunshine.
Christ in the Centre started at St Peter’s Square, Highcross. The performance was introduced by Rt Rev Bishop Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester. The first prayer was offered by Pastor Terry Oakley, who prayed for everyone gathered to watch and also for the passersby.
The first performance was a re-telling of some of the stories of Christ. Some innovative ideas and humour were added to keep the crowd engrossed in the performance. A procession from St Peter’s Square to Humberstone Gate was lead by Jesus, played by Walt Kissack, with the rest of the cast and audience members following behind. The procession was shown on the big screen, so that the crowd who had already assembled on Humberstone Gate could watch.
The second performance documented the last days of Jesus’ life, from the betrayal to the crucifiction. This was where the actors really showed their skill. All the actors apart from the lead were amateurs and they all portrayed their parts well. The show was well received by the audience of almost ten thousand people who had gathered to watch. At the end, after the crucifiction had been re-enacted, they all joined together in a hymn. It was very moving to see so many people of different ages and ethnic backgrounds, raising their voices together.
Pukaar News spoke to organiser Jonathan Wheeler. He talked about how the crowds’ response is one of the reasons he enjoys being involved. He said, “Everyone has such an awesome reaction. It makes such a contribution to people’s lives. It takes a lot of preparing for two hours. But it’s completely worth it because people experience the most intense emotions from it. It’s superb.”
He added, “Christmas is always concentrated on, sometimes too much. But Easter is the most important. The Easter story is the essence and core of the Christian faith. Without the belief that Jesus rose again, the beliefs of Christianity fall flat.”
Christ in the Centre has been performed in Leicester since 2003. Asked what he had changed from the previous years, he said, “There are some stories you can tell and retell and you always find something new about it. This year I focused on the personal interactions Jesus had with the people who knew him best. The man who was a Carpenter from Nazareth.”
The organisers are looking forward to next year’s event, because it will be the tenth time this event has been staged and they expect it will be something really special.