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Portsmouth: ships of the desert spotted on local estate

Real camels and donkeys were among the stars of a community Nativity play staged by residents of a council estate near Portsmouth ...

Real camels and donkeys were among the stars of a community Nativity play staged by residents of a council estate near Portsmouth.
 
Worshippers recruited a 36-strong cast of local residents to tell the story of Jesus’s birth as part of the Leigh Park and Warren Park Community Nativity Play.
 
And the actors playing the three kings attracted attention to the start of the play by riding their camels through the estate, to the incredulity of passers-by. The cast then performed their hour-long Nativity play inside St Clare’s Church, Warren Park, using donkeys, while the camels, sheep and goats were tethered outside.
 
Local headteacher Lisa Dunning played the part of Balthazar. She said: “I seemed to get the naughty camel, for some reason! But it was fabulous to be part of a local community project with others, many of whom are parents at the school.”
 
And lay Reader Annie Martin, who played Caspar, said: “It was great. I’ll do anything for God! We know that the kings took three years to get there in real life, but it was an amazing way to tell the story.”
 
The play was written by Carolyn Owens, who is married to the parish priest, the Rev Jonathan Jeffery. Jonathan played  the leading storyteller, who presented the story to the audience. Cast members were given the chance to improvise in rehearsals to find new ways to tell the Christmas story.
 
It was performed twice, once on the Saturday night with donkeys, and once on the Sunday afternoon with donkeys and camels.

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