Christ’s passion stumped by Council’s decision

May 2014

Live events industry


A planned Easter performance of Christ’s Passion was refused a licence by Oxford city Council after the Licensing Authority mistook the play for a sex show. The performance, which tells the story of the crucifixion of Christ, had been planned for Good Friday by St Stephen’s House Theological College and Saints Mary and John Church in Oxford. However Licensing team Leader Julian Alison admitted that he did not realise that the performance was a religious event and a local councillor said that that the Authority was worried that staging the show without a licence would be an offence. The Passion was cancelled at short notice. A Passion play is a dramatic performance of the Passion of Christ, depicting the trial, crucifixion and death of Jesus. The name comes from the Latin verb ‘pati’ – meaning ‘to suffer’. The Oxford performance was previously held in 2012, without a licence, when an audience of some 200 watched Mischa Richards, playing Jesus, haul a wooden cross from Cowley Road Methodist church to Saints Mary and John. This year, the organisers decided to stage a repeat, but were told they must apply for a council licence – and were astonished when they were turned down.  A church source told MailOnline: ‘A council official didn’t read the paperwork properly and didn’t realise it was a religious play, so told us we needed an events licence when we didn’t.”

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