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Playing Jesus

 

Actor Luke Wroe talks describes the challenges of taking on the role of Jesus  for the first time in this year’s Edinburgh Easter Play.

 

AS an actor, you get used to imagining your way into all kinds of plays, from Sophocles to Shakespeare, to hard-hitting contemporary dramas.

But few roles present a greater challenge than the Son of God.

Glasgow-based actor Luke Wroe has been facing up to this challenge in the last few months as he prepares to play Jesus in ‘Hope Rises’, this year’s Edinburgh Easter Play. He will make his debut in Princes Street Gardens on Saturday April 16 at 2pm.

“I’m tempted to say the toughest thing for me has been getting to a place with the crucifixion, imagining that kind of pain,” he says, thoughtfully. “But, actually, the toughest thing has been playing a human being who is also God, and thinking about how that plays into the character all the time.

“I’m a human being, I don’t know what it’s like to be God, but I’ve got to try to imbue it with that sense of knowledge, and that’s been really challenging. Really exciting as well, I mean, what greater character is there to tackle?”
Luke grew up in Derby and came to study acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow after doing a history degree at Bristol University. “Though I didn’t do that much history, I spent most of my time doing acting,” he laughs. “Eventually, I decided to pursue that and came up to the RCS to study.”

He graduated in 2019 and, soon afterwards, learned of auditions for the part of Jesus in the Edinburgh Passion, the citywide project planned for 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic intervened, meaning that live productions in 2020 and 2021 had to be cancelled. This year, however, the Easter Play team are delighted to be back performing to a live audience in Princes Street Gardens.

‘Hope Rises’ is a dynamic contemporary play which imagines the cast as a group of refugees who arrive in a foreign city with only what they can carry - and with a story to tell about how their lives were changed by meeting Jesus.

Luke says: “I think this desperate need to tell a story is very relevant today, with the refugee crisis in Europe and across the world. The story of Jesus is a story of great love, and I think we need to hear that now more than ever.”

He says he grew up in a Christian family, and is a member of the congregation at Glasgow: St George’s Tron, but this was not the primary reason he was drawn to the part. “I was fresh out of drama school, I really wanted to try my hand at anything and Jesus is an amazing character to play.

“I’ve read all the Gospels in preparation for the role, and done research about who Jesus was, what he would wear, what he would look like - he wouldn’t look like me! I’ve tried to do as much research as I can because it’s a big role to fill and I want to give as authentic a portrayal as I can.”

 

‘Hope Rises’, The Edinburgh Easter Play 2022, will be staged in West Princes Street Gardens on Saturday April 16 at 2pm. The event is free and unticketed, and will also be livestreamed for audiences around the country on www.easterplay.org

 

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