Friday, 24 October 2014

Wintershall Nativity - A New Generation Takes Over

Charlotte de Klee and Peter Hutley
Production of the great Wintershall religious plays performed in Surrey, London and Glastonbury has been passed to the next generation of the Hutley family, ensuring that the tradition stays alive.

Peter Hutley has written and produced first the Wintershall Nativity, and latterly either the Passion Play or the epic Life of Christ as well, every year since 1990.

Now in his late 80s, he has passed the baton to his daughter Charlotte. He will still be a part of the theatre, acting in the plays and inspiring the cast, but she will take over the responsibility for the productions.

With a cast ranging from 75 for the Nativity to 200 for the Life of Christ, all willing amateurs except for the professional Christ, the plays are a huge undertaking and luckily Charlotte knows just what she is taking on.

The whole Hutley family, parents, children and grandchildren, have been involved in the productions from the start – in the case of the grandchildren since birth – and Charlotte shares Peter’s passion for the plays. She has been responsible for staging the Wintershall Nativity in Scotland where she lives, for the last 16 years.

The Wintershall productions have always had professional directors, Ashley Herman and Kathy Longbottom, and the theatre project has never stood still. As the repertoire of plays increased, so did the venues. The Passion played in Guildford High Street and is now regularly staged in Trafalgar Square. This year, it also went to Glastonbury. The Nativity will be performed at Wintershall and also returns to All Souls Church in Langham Place and the piazza at BBC Broadcasting House.

Peter’s vision saw Christ’s cross, straw, sheep, donkeys and whole families of actors take the plays to central London. Where will Charlotte’s vision take them next?

Top of her initial wishlist is a new generation of actors to join the cast. “It’s like a family, a community,” she said, “We don’t have auditions and everyone is welcome. It’s really about the Body of Christ. We are all part of it and nobody is excluded.

“Rehearsals are mostly at weekends from October and the actors are trained by first class directors. At least one child had their life changed by the experience as it is such a tremendous confidence builder.”

Rehearsals start next month. Contact 01483 892167 if you would like to be involved. Performances are on December 17 in London and December 18-21 at Wintershall.

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