Racine Assembly of God in Racine, WI., has been performing its annual Easter play for 7 years but for the church’s "2004 Passion Play" that will be performed this week, some changes will be made.
Frank Porcaro, the director of the play who also portrays Jesus said this year the crew wanted to be more creative and develop the characters. “We try to add scenes that tell who Jesus was and add more of a personal side to him” and "get into what Jesus, Judas and Peter are thinking. When you look at the encounter, it is very concise in the Bible. We went and found a short story that expanded on it and took a little artistic license and included it in the scene," said Porcaro.
“It's a funny thing to try to do," Porcaro said, "But what gets me excited is we get to tell it the way we see it.”
Around 300 people in the church are involved in the play, which begins at Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist then proceeds to show what Jesus did in his public ministry. By scene 4, Judas betrays Jesus and Jesus takes up the cross. In the end of the play, there is also resurrection.
"Sometimes we add scenes, sometimes we change the dialogue in the scenes, sometimes we take out scenes. This is done by the music pastor and director,” said the church’s music pastor, Rev. Jennifer Hull.
Hull noted another change in the script to improve the play this year.
”This year we changed the dialogue in the Nicodemus Encounter to make it a little more artistically thought-provoking," Hull said.
Like most Easter plays, the Racine A/G Church’s rendition of to the events leading up to the crucifixion and the glorious resurrection are taken from a viewpoint of all four Gospels and also follow a long tradition.
Holy Week or Passion Week is the last week of Lent and its theme is re-enacting the Passion, Porcaro said. Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are the special days of the week and their events have commemorated since the Middle Ages in passion plays, Porcaro said.
Palm Sunday signifies the day Jesus entered Jerusalem and was hailed Messiah with palm leaves, Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified and Easter is the day Jesus resurrected from the dead.
Even though there is no guarantee the play will remain the same every Easter season, there is one goal that will not change for Racine A/G Church.
"What we do that is different is involve upwards of 300 people in our church to put on a first-class production that we pray will bring people a vivid experience that can turn the biblical narrative into reality," said Hull.
The Racine Assembly of God is located on 1325 Airline Road in Racine, WI.