Abingdon is gearing up for the fourth instalment of a new tradition which will see the story of Jesus brought to life through a play.

After several months of rehearsals, actors and singers are ready to re-enact the story of Jesus Christ with the Abingdon Passion Play.

The event will take place at Abbey Gardens on June 22.

Oxford Mail: The Abingdon Passion Play actors and singersThe Abingdon Passion Play actors and singers (Image: Abingdon Passion Play)

The organisers said: "After many months of fundraising, meetings, rehearsals, and endless cups of coffee and homemade cakes it’s now almost time to curtain up for the fourth Abingdon Passion Play."

The tradition of the Abingdon Passion Play, like other passion plays, can be traced back to the 14th century "mystery plays".

First acted out within churches, they gradually relocated outdoors, showing different themes from the Bible across towns.

Performers, belonging to several guilds, used a movable stage to carry out their performances.

The most famous passion play took place during an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1633, in a small Bavarian village named Oberammergau.

Residents of the village pledged to stage a play every decade if they survived the plague - a promise they have kept to this day.

They now act out the story of Jesus Christ on a specially built stage, involving a large cast and crew.

Abingdon has been performing its passion play every three years since 2013, although there was a break in 2022 due to the pandemic.

Actors and singers from Abingdon and surrounding areas perform the story of Jesus Christ to the people of Abingdon, in a traditional or more modern format.

The last three passion plays in the town were all performed around Easter - a period devoted to the memorial of Jesus's last week, his crucifixion, and subsequent resurrection.

This year it has been moved to later in the year to avoid the colder weather.

The organisers said: "It was felt that summer would make for a more cheerful setting, with the audience being able to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Abbey Gardens, making the play a true community event."

Participants come from various backgrounds, and have been able to get to know each other over the past few months.

The play uses a new script, relating the traditional story in modern day language, and uses a theatrical device to "bring it into the 21st century".

Attendees are invited to bring something to sit on to watch the performance, either a chai or a rug, with entry being free.

The 2019 performance in Abingdon saw hundreds of people in attendance.