COLUMN: Passion play is helping to bring people together

By George Gunby

We hear and read a lot about community but what is it? One dictionary definition is “a group of people living in the same place”. 
Another states “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common”. Whatever your definition we should remember that a community isn’t a single entity. It’s made up of individuals who decide to put their skills to a particular task or tasks.
Take the Belper Passion Play as an example. That began with an idea and a suggestion. By the time the performance took place it involved more than 80 people who combined their creative and functional talents and skills. 
Those people involved the full spectrum from the devout to agnostics and atheists. As rehearsals progressed individuals became closer. 
Points of view became respected and differences accepted. The cast became a community within the community.The Passion Play was described as community theatre, as community art. However, community art isn’t about just making art, whatever art is. It’s about the links between the creative process, community concerns and building relationships. It’s about curiosity and curiosity takes us to new places, physically and mentally.
Mainly it’s about people. Community art, whether it’s theatre, painting, dance, film or whatever else constitutes “art”, is about having the support and skills that increase confidence and personal development. It’s about removing barriers and improving accessibility. Having said that, I don’t want to compartmentalise community “arts”. There are areas where the goals of individual groups overlap and they can work together to the same end. 
There is a strength that can develop within a group or groups that gives a voice the individual may not have. 
Viewpoints and opinions can be aired with a cohesiveness that can shape opinion in the wider community. 
In many cases these can be along non political lines, influenced solely by the needs and wants of the town and it’s people and uncluttered by political party demands. 
Finally, rehearsals for the Belper Passion play have begun and we have as diverse a group of people this year as last and I’m looking forward to seeing them become a community within the community through creativity. 
Rehearsals for the Belper Passion Play take place at the Strutts Centre, Derby Road every Tuesday from 7pm. All are welcome.