Brawl in Brazil as man invades stage to 'save' Jesus in Passion Play
A performance of Biblical drama the Passion of Christ erupted in a brawl in Brazil after a member of the audience jumped on stage to attack an actor in a bizarre bid to "save Jesus" from being crucified.
Samir Rodrigues, playing the role of a Roman soldier, was hit around the head with a motorcycle helmet and kicked by the assailant seconds after pretending to thrust the spear into the side of the messiah. The unnamed man leapt on stage in Nova Hartz town centre, south Brazil, on Friday evening to launch his surprise defence of Jesus Christ by attacking and chasing the stunned actor.
William da Silva, the city's planning director, said more than 1,000 people were in the town square watching the show and at first no one could believe what was happening.
Mr Da Silva said: "The man leapt up from the middle of the audience and no one guessed what he was about to do. Witnesses reported the attacker was shouting 'he was not going to let Jesus die' before he barged onto stage."
The outraged man, who is alleged to suffer from mental health problems and drug abuse, is known to police.
Many watching looked on in disbelief while questioning whether this was part of the drama. Actors ploughed into the aggressor as they tried to restrain him, but he continued to lash out as fists flew.
Shocked director Adriano Ferreira who manages a company of 80 actors, said: "There are some things that are just inexplicable.
"We halted the play for a few moments, but as no one had been injured, we decided to continue with the staging."
He added that although Rodrigues was left shaken by the attack, he was unharmed.
Throughout the confusion the actor who played Jessus stayed calm, even when the cross nearly pitched over as colleagues rushed in to contain the situation.