A passion for getting involved

The Burke family at a dress rehearsal last Saturday.
The Burke family at a dress rehearsal last Saturday. / LEILA LAWSON
  • British and German residents Raaland and Claudia Burke and their two young boys have parts in this year's Passion play that involves the entire village of Riogordo

Hundreds of local people and actors will be taking part in Riogordo's giant Passion play, El Paso, on Good Friday and Easter Saturday. The Easter story has been performed in the village in this way since 1951; in recent years however the cast has included a a handful of foreign residents who are keen to get involved.

This year, the British-German Burke family, who moved to the village in January, have got parts as "woman, man and children of the village". Raaland, his wife Claudia and their two boys, aged nine and six, had "originally thought of being spectators this year". However, having spoken to long-term Riogordo resident, Leila Lawson, who is heavily involved in El Paso and other village activities, the whole family decided to get involved.

Raaland says that from day one it has been important for the family to participate in village activities and they made sure they were at the recent olive oil tour and talk.

Leila herself always participates in El Paso and describes her role as "Woman of Jerusalem, third from the left".

Raaland and Claudia are taking Spanish lessons and the boys attend the local primary school, although Raaland confesses that he doesn't think they ready for speaking parts yet. This is probably a good thing, though, as the bigger parts are said to be highly coveted by Riogordo residents.

Other newcomers to the village are Heather Fish, 69, and Sammi Dennard, 44, who are both ballet teachers and originally from London. They have been in Riogordo since last November and, like the Burke family, are keen to embrace the events that take place throughout the year in what they have found to be a "friendly" village. Their role this year, however, will be to photograph the impressive event as they run their own film and photography company.

El Paso tells the story of the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ in around 17 scenes and has been declared a festival of national tourist interest.

Tickets are 10 euros for adults and 7 euros for children and can be bought on the day outside the ground or in advance from: Rural-Andalus, Tienda Cofrade Nazareno, Cerería Zalo in Malaga. In Torre del Mar from the Pasatiempos bookshop of from Riogordo town hall.