Walt's Look Around: "His Last Days" - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: "His Last Days"

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KOSCIUSKO, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

There are more Easter traditions in Mississippi than just the Easter Bunny and church on Sunday. In Kosciusko the three nights just prior to Easter, the First United Methodist Church presents "His Last Days."

This is their 28th year for the presentation and Easter weekend revolves around the production there. The actual presentation lasts about an hour give or take, but preparation to perform it starts way earlier in the afternoon.

It takes a while to transform 21st Century businessmen and women and students into Roman soldiers and Jewish Priests and Disciples of 2000 years ago. And although makeup is applied an hour or so before the performance, preparation for this year's play actually started shortly after last's years run ended.

Director Diane Gray starts out by lining up the cast.

"Most people when you say, ‘Are you going to be in the play this year?' say ‘Oh yes,'" said Gray.

And it takes quite a few actors and techies to make this work. There were over 150 names given credit in the program as having a hand in it this year.  

Shortly before eight o'clock the Thursday, Friday and Saturday night prior to Easter Sunday, people carrying their lawn chairs start coming from all directions and arrive on the street in front of the church and take their places to see the Passion Play unfold in front of them.

There are townspeople and officials and disciples and of course, Jesus. Mat Tucker is Jesus this year. He grasps the seriousness of the part he is playing and prepares accordingly.

"Studying the scripture is a big part of it," said Tucker. "And then just trying to use the human relationship of how do I think Jesus would feel as a human side, and try to bring that to life as we do the performance."  

Pastor of First Methodist in Kosciusko, Don Patterson understands the roll the play has taken in the community.

"Twenty-eight years this has woven itself, I think, into the DNA of the community to the extent that if this play didn't take place during Easter it would not be Easter in Kosciusko," said Pastor Patterson.  

And being in the play has been a decades-long affiliation for some of the actors.

This is the 11th year John Robert Hillman has played the disciple Matthew. He had something he wanted to tell everybody.

"I wanted to give all my friends a big shout-out. Hi from Kosciusko! Love you!" said Hillman. 

And I'm not so sure that isn't the overriding message from the church to all of us in going to the trouble and expense of presenting "His Last Days" for us to come see for 28 years now.  

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