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It’s become something of an Easter tradition in south-east Queensland and, just as they have in previous years, this year once again hundreds of people are expected to make the trek out to Lake Moogerah to watch a passion play about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ under the open sky. This year, organiser Kosti Simons expects, will be no different.






SCENES FROM PAST PASSION PLAYS: The Christ figure performs anonymously according to tradition. Kosti Simons can be seen in the top picture as John the Baptist. ALL PICTURES: Alan Purvis/Criss Cross Creations ©

The first passion play was staged at Moogerah, located about 60 kilometres southwest of Ipswich, in 1993. Mr Simons and his wife Carroll had returned to Australia after 12 years of living on their sloop in Barcelona inspired by a vision he had received during a holiday in Queensland that he was to write a passion play.

“(I) was meditating in a park when an interior voice quite clearly told me I had to return to Australia,” he recalls. “It actually repeated itself lest it fall on deaf ears. As I opened my eyes I saw dead ahead a bright star (and) I knew…I was to write a passion. I was to found a passion play organisation.”

Returning to Australia, Mr Simons – who had found Christ when visiting Lourdes in France on a stormy Good Friday, a life-changing event which led him to walk barefoot as a pilgrim from Paris to Santiago de Compostella in Spain and then to found a pilgrim organisation – spent long months looking for a suitable site to host his passion play.

“I spent 18 months looking everywhere for a suitable site, even up to 100 kilometres away, and finally found it 10 minutes from home,” he recalls. 

He says that while he and his wife had not a “brass razoo” between them – a situation he describes as “not unusual” – he says that within six months they had acquired land – a two hectare site on the shores of Lake Moogerah – and associated sheds and infrastructure.

“I went to see a dairy farmer and asked him to be our Christ-figure,” Mr Simons adds. “His jaw dropped and he gulped but in the end he said yes. Running a passion play is mostly about twisting arms, especially in the country where people tend to be more conservative and the idea of acting is far removed from anyone’s thoughts.”

Nowdays, he notes, about half the cast of about 100, who range in age from five to 75, come from Brisbane.

The story is based on accounts on Christ’s life contained in the Bible and Mr Simons has previously noted that the production is “very careful never to put any words into Christ’s mouth that aren’t in the Bible”.

“The plot is essentially the same…but three or four scenes are different each year…” Mr Simons says. 

While the site of the play – which was designed to resemble the Biblical sites they are based upon and features a 2,000 seat open air auditorium – had been planted with palm groves and an olive grove as well as a fig and mulberry tree and all buildings are built of stone, it wasn’t until last year that the Simons’ decided to see how closely it resembled the real thing and spent two months in Israel.

While Ms Simons reports that the mountains at Moogerah were higher and the whole scene more intimate that than of Lake Galilee, she says the rock walls of The Lake Theatre are an “excellent reflection” of the stone used for building in Israel and that the palm groves at Lake Moogerah also do a good job showing what they saw in the Holy Land.

“As for the ubiquitous olive tree, it is seen everywhere from Dan to Beersheba. Every valley had ancient terraces planted with olive trees. It is said that some are 2,000 years old.”

Ms Simons says that taken altogether, “it is not difficult, when you are seated in the auditorium at The Lake Theatre, to imagine that you are in Israel and in the Israel of 2,000 years ago.”

Performances of ‘He’s Alive!’ will be held at The Lake Theatre, starting at 5pm, on Good Friday and Easter Saturday. Admission is free. For more details, see



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