The first auditions for the forthcoming British Pageant were held in Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham from the 3rd – 5th of February with over 215 members in attendance.
Alex Mackenzie Johns, the Artistic Director, and members of the artistic team began by inviting those auditioning for the Core Cast roles to introduce themselves, pray for each other, and to share their personal feelings as to what brought them to this point. They were then asked to read together in small groups, re-enacting some of the stories of the early church members whose experiences are included in a wide variety of Pageant scenes. The group frequently paused to reflect: what message were they hearing as they acted, felt the Spirit, and embraced truth?
One of those auditioning was Karen, from Glasgow; after watching the 2013 performance, she knew she “wanted to be part of it.” With the announcement of the 2017 pageant, Karen felt in her heart that she needed to commit to contributing to it this year. For her, a highlight of the 2013 performance was when the missionaries entered the marquee singing Called to Serve: “I will never forget that moment – there was such a special Spirit there.” After the audition, Karen related her surprise at just how strongly she felt the spirit. “I was really touched as I read [the] stories, and hadn't expected to feel so emotional.”
Irrespective of where members were from, the desire to serve in the Pageant was consistently in abundance. One lady in Glasgow, said: 'I want 2017 to be remembered for me as the year I did the Pageant!” In Manchester, one applicant said: “I don't care how I am involved. I just want to be a part of it.” In Birmingham, another member said: “I know this is going to change my life.”
Alex (Artistic Director) summarised her feelings after the busy weekend; "Being with the saints at auditions was a joyous experience for me. I was inspired by the faith, desires and talents of those we met - especially the youth! It really was sacred to share all those lines together, from the letters and diaries of the early saints. It helped me realise afresh that the saints today really are one with the saints of old."
Ben Gaughran one of the Pageant Music Directors, who led the choir auditions, which included 95 members in Manchester, said, “Being together with the Saints was a tremendous experience and such a blessing. I was touched to hear of the sacrifices made by people so they could attend auditions; their desire to serve and be a part of the Pageant, in whatever way, was truly inspirational. Because the participants had prepared so well, the Spirit of the Lord was in abundance.”
We are so privileged that the Pageant has returned for 2017 and we rejoice that so many want to participate. The hand of the Lord is evident in the way that the work is gaining momentum; we are encouraged by the success do far, and cannot wait to meet more willing saints as the auditions continue.