Peter and Ann Hutley have lived at Wintershall since the 1960’s. Here is the story of how the Wintershall Plays began.
You can download the pdf here Interview-with-Peter-and-Ann-Hutley.pdf
The extraordinary story of these productions has its humble beginnings in Medjugorje, a holy place in Spain.
“I had the deep feeling of the presence of God,”
he says. When they returned to Wintershall they were committed to spreading the Christian message.
Peter told his children that if they could buy a local barn, then they would use it for God. They got the barn and a few weeks later, put on their first Nativity. “It wasn’t very good,” remembers Peter. But the visitors were delighted and there was an expectation it would be repeated.
“The early days of the Nativity were filled with natural drama, of finding friends willing to sacrifice a busy Christmas weekend with a long walk up a wet and windy hill for rehearsals,”
recalls Ann. Now Holly Barn is a licensed theatre and 6,000 visitors come to see the Nativity every year.
Peter wanted to stage a Passion play. He felt the story had to be told. It took him two years to write and in 1993, the first variation was staged on the tennis court. After the crucifixion the audience, thinking it was over, would get in their cars to leave and Ann would run after them to explain the best was still to come. In 2010, Wintershall brought the Passion play to Trafalgar Square as a gift to the people of London. Today there are two performances on Good Friday every year in the square and 20,000 people attend. On Easter Saturday, there are two further performances in Guildford town centre. Presented as a free promenade style theatre event it provides spectators a ”unique” chance to experience what it was like to be in Jerusalem on the first Good Friday with the audience hearing the crowds baying for Christ’s blood.
Ann and Peter’s vision was to see the Passion play performed across the major cities in the UK over Easter 2020.
In 1999, Wintershall performed The Life of Christ, an extraordinary 5-hour open air production that had taken Peter over a year of burning the midnight oil to write.
“I remember Peter saying after the first performance that this is probably why he had been born,”
says Ann. The play was created for the millennium but has been performed every year since.
The plays have been seen by over a quarter of a million people and the concept has travelled to all corners of the world, from Australian parks to Scottish castles and American prisons.