Number of pages: 179
Date of publication: 2015
Modern-day Easter is derived from two ancient traditions: one Judeo-Christian and the other Pagan. Both Christians and Pagans have celebrated death and resurrection themes following the Spring Equinox for millennia. Most religious historians believe that many elements of the established order.
In 2002 BBC Radio 3 commissioned a sequence of plays from writer Andrew Rissik to be broadcast in the run-up to Easter 2004. In these separate but thematically-linked 90-minute dramas Rissik presents three stories of confrontations between the forces of change and the established order.
The third play Resurrection – which featured Anton Lesser and David Calder in the lead roles – shows itinerant preacher Yeshua Ben Youssef bringing a message of redemption, non-violence and universal brotherhood to the Roman-occupied province of Judaea, where the governor, responsible for maintaining order in volatile local conditions, finds himself obliged to put him to death on a politically-motivated charge of sedition.
Andrew Rissik is a British scriptwriter, arts journalist and critic best known for the BBC Radio 3 trilogy, Troy and the five-part thriller serial for Radio 4, The Psychedelic Spy.
He was born in 1955, educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, where he took a Double First in English in 1977. After a short period as a junior academic, he moved to London in 1979, where he taught part time, worked as a script reader for the BBC and contributed to many newspapers and magazines, including Time Out, The New Statesman and The Times.
In 1983 he published a book on the films of Sean Connery, The James Bond Man. He was theatre critic at The Independent from 1986 to 1988, and from 1999 to 2001 a lead book reviewer for The Guardian. His full time writing and journalistic career came to an end in 1988 when he was diagnosed with M.E., from which he still suffers.
Most of his dramatic work has been done for BBC Radio Drama, although a tv play was broadcast by Thames in 1981. Blue Pacific Island (Radio 4 1985) was followed by the trilogy A Man Alone in 1986 (the first part of which won a Giles Cooper Award), and by a five-part thriller The Psychedelic Spy in 1990. King Priam, a one-hour account of the Trojan war starring Paul Scofield, was broadcast in 1987 and led to a four-and-a-half-hour, three-play development of the subject, Troy, which won wide acclaim a decade later on BBC Radio 3 in 1998.
“We have seen Christ as the blood-soaked victim in Mel Gibson’s new film, The Passion of the Christ; we have seen him handsomely portrayed by Robert Powell in the 1977 television epic Jesus of Nazareth; and we have heard him glamorously embodied by Roger Daltrey in a radio production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Few plays, however, have dealt with Jesus as a living, breathing character. But now we have a radio version of the Messiah as he might actually have spoken when not quoting the Bible.Andrew Rissik’s Resurrection is one part of a remarkable trilogy about the clash between state power and divine belief being broadcast over the Easter period. The other two plays are The Art of Love, which concerns the threat to national security from the seductive pen of the Roman poet Ovid, and Dionysos, broadcast yesterday, a reworking of the Bacchae story, about the havoc caused by a new cult of freedom and love. Of these, Resurrection is the one that challenges the conventions of biblical drama. It leaves out Judas and the disciples, gives Pontius Pilate a major say, and puts fresh words into the mouth of Christ, played with a scary, blowtorch intensity by Anton Lesser. The thrill of the piece is that it makes you believe you are eavesdropping on Pilate and Christ in the great unrecorded conversation of history. Far from being meek and mild, this Christ is angry, forceful, disconcerting and very real…”
Robert Gore Langton, The Times