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Good Friday passion play to take over downtown Helsinki

An ecumenical re-enactment of the day of Jesus’ crucifixion takes place in downtown Helsinki for the 21st time this year. Also known as the Way of the Cross or Stations of the Cross, the portrayal follows Jesus in the hours leading up to his death and at the same time tackles contemporary themes.

Via Crucis 2016 4 harjoitus
Actors rehearse for the 2016 Via Crucis re-enactment. Kai Vaine plays the role of Jesus of Nazareth. Image: Pasi Tapanainen /Yle

Staged by a group of Christian congregations in Helsinki, this year’s Way of the Cross or Via Crucis re-enactment casts actor Kai Vaine in the lead role as Jesus.

Screen writer and former pastor Veli-Pekka Hänninen is the hand behind the script and second-time director for the production is renowned opera director Ville Saukkonen.

Other main roles will see Pinja Hahtola cast as Judas Iscariot, while Tiia Louste and Juha Hippi will play the Virgin Mary and Pontius Pilate respectively.

Although the portrayal is a retelling of a story that is thousands of years old, it approaches the subject from a contemporary perspective. The production explores themes such as the all-encompassing nature of money, feelings of futility, fear, growing injustice, and the denial of death.

More than 10,000 spectators

In particular this year’s passion play delves into the idea of living in fear and challenges the audience to consider whether or not the individual can triumph over an atmosphere of panic.

"If anyone asks me, I will deny everything. I saw nothing, heard nothing, I was in another room, another country, another reality, when it happened," St. Peter or Simon Peter says as he references current-day sentiments in his monologue.

Via Crucis begins Good Friday evening from 9.30pm in Kaisaniemi Park. The procession will proceed past the Bank of Finland towards the Lutheran Cathedral, where the re-enactment will culminate in the crucifixion.

Last year some 15,000 onlookers turned out to follow the portrayal, which is usually put together by a working group comprising theatrical and musical professionals as well as hobbyists and different church congregation members.

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