Sunday 8th April 2012
BY NO means the highlight of a stop-start acting career, but I have to say the view was pretty impressive and it’s not every day you get a chance to be crucified.
This was at Piran Round, near Perranporth, Cornwall, in July 1969. For the first time since the 16th century, a biblical drama was being presented, out of doors and in full, to a paying audience.
We Bristol university students spent three weeks on a nearby camp-site, performing the medieval cycle known as the Cornish Ordinalia: eleven hours sitting on planks for those wishing to watch all three plays in one day.
The foot of each cross was slotted into the base of a rock, the latter a grey, canvas-covered, wooden structure, which I always thought too flimsy for the task. You’d lie on your back, get strapped in so to speak, and be raised to the perpendicular by jeering soldiers. Approaching the upright was like riding on a fair-ground big wheel, without the following plummet.
We had small platforms to stand on – more Life of Brian than historically accurate – and the bloke in the middle did nearly all the talking, so I’d just hang around, waiting for the final curtain and thinking about that attractive girl on the beach earlier. From memory, it was the other thief whose confession ensured salvation, not mine.
I had a dozen or so (largely insignificant) parts, the most enjoyable being one of the merchants in the temple whose tables were overturned by Christ. The pigeons in my basket were locals, seized by an assistant director on regular, reluctant visits to a barn, where he’d invariably end up getting the more docile members of his target flock.
Consequently, on being released, these limelight-seekers would usually ignore the stage directions – and my flapping – preferring to strut across the arena rather than fly away dramatically, as intended.
The attractive girl had friends in the cast: she’d be staying for a few days. I was over the moon.
Elsewhere, Armstrong was taking small steps on the lunar surface.