Friday, February 03, 2006

Manchester Passion for Easter

It's true.

The BBC plans to commerate the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ this Easter with an hour-long live procession through the streets of Manchester, near the gay village popularised by the Queer As Folk sitcom, accompanied by an orchestral score incorporating Bible passages and songs by a number of Manchester bands. And if you know those Manchunians, it's all wife-beating, drug addiction, alcoholism, temper tantrums, raves and suicide in the Mersey.

The drama will begin with the performers playing Jesus and the disciples, dressed in contemporary urban wear, at the Last Supper, sitting on a wall in a Manchester street. Jesus will sing Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (mp3, lyrics), recorded a mere 2 months before its lead singer committed suicide due to marital problems brought on by his adulterous relationship with a Belgian woman.

Meanwhile, the Judas figure, knowing he is about to betray Jesus, will sob the downbeat anthem by The Smiths, "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" (mp3, lyrics).

In the Garden of Gesthemene (aka some grubby Manchester park) Jesus will sing "Sit Down" (lyrics) by James as he prays alone, and then "Blue Monday" (mp3, lyrics) by New Order with Judas as he is arrested by performers dressed as police officers.

As the group converges on Albert Square in the centre of the city, a separate crowd of people carrying a 25ft-long, white cross will arrive from the other side of the city and the public will also be asked to bring a symbol of their own burden - "something they are personally concerned about" - according to senior church sources involved in the programme.

The crowd will be joined by Bez - the entertainer famous for bashing his tambourine on stage with Happy Mondays. He will be accompanied by former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown and Black Grape saxophonist Martin Slattery.

The trial of Jesus by Pontius Pilate will be accompanied by the singing of "Wonderwall" (mp3 must be played loud, lyrics) by Oasis, the chorus of which goes:
I said maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me?
And after all
You're my wonderwall.
The Virgin Mary will express her emotions at the foot of the cross in the song "Search For the Hero Inside Yourself" (lyrics) by M People.

At the climax of the programme, the resurrected Christ will appear on the roof of Manchester town hall and, if the draft script is followed, will belt out a reprise of "Wonderwall".

The idea is good but it waits to be seen how (if possible at all) the lyrics to the songs can be co-opted to narrate and explain Jesus' death clearly and faithfully, and the gospel preached.

And in Singapore, what we can do with...let's see...Dim Sum Dollies, Fried Rice Paradise, Corrine May and err... National Day songs?

(Well, if there is ever a need, some ARPC pastors and staffworkers (and a rather raggedy chicken) obviously have some hidden gifts. Here they are doing the numa-numa, thanks to quop.



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