Jesus is crucified at a passion play in Trafalgar Square, London

After a quarter-century of crucifixions, Jesus actor lays down his cross

An actor who has played Jesus for nearly a quarter-century has decided this year will be the last.

James Burke-Dunsmore, 51, said he will no longer be performing as Jesus in Trafalgar Square’s Easter passion plays.

Burke-Dunsmore has played Christ all over the world in various productions since 1998.

He said: “It has been an utter privilege to focus on one skill for so long, in the same way an opera singer might focus on a particular repertoire.

“Like the great plays, you just long to return to Jesus to go deeper, with the opportunity to read the scriptures again and again and again.”

The actor’s first crucifixion was in Wales 24 years ago, where he agreed to help a director in return for a favour.

Since then, he said it was a quick upwards slope, and has played Christ in 76 different productions for 22 companies in 45 towns and six countries.

He said: “I will miss working with hundreds, and over the years, tens of thousands of people, who rarely had ego.

“I will probably go into shock when I start working with people who have glorious egos.”

Burke-Dunsmore will focus on directing other productions, as well as overseeing the use of drama in schools to teach religious studies.

Surrey-based production company Wintershall brought the passion play to Trafalgar Square in 2010.

Every year on Good Friday, Wintershall’s production tells the vivid story of Christ’s trial, crucifixion and resurrection, with a cast of over 100 people, plus horses, donkeys and sheep.  

Thousands of spectators came to Trafalgar Square to watch the performance.

Passion plays are a tradition which go back to the Middle Ages, and depict the dramatic story of The Passion, the last part of Christ’s life.

They are known for their vivid detail and life-like re-enactment of Christ’s crucifixion, with performances all over the world, from Bavaria to the Philippines.

Featured image credit: Catholic Church England and Wales via Flickr under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence

Related Articles