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Richard Dawkins and Francesca Stavrakopoulou
27 August 2011

This Christmas, Ship of Fools will run an interactive nativity play on Facebook, in partnership with Bible Society. Roll on Christmas will feature a cast made of loo rolls, played by your Facebook friends. Here's what it's all about...

The scene is instantly familiar – a smelly stable in Roman-occupied Bethlehem. But the action is as much Marx Brothers as Mary and Joseph, Mission Impossible as Matthew's Gospel.

Roll on Christmas (from mid-Nov 2011) will be the First Coming as you've never seen it before – an online, customised nativity play, casted by you. Unwittingly, your Facebook buddies will find themselves stars of a chaotic, two-minute festive animation – their faces cut out and stuck on loo rolls, which will be used to depict all the usual Bethlehem suspects.

Which friend will play your mystical BVM, sheep-loving shepherd or bling-dripping wise man? Whose lusty lungs will make up your cacophonic choir of angels? And who would best fit love-to-hate, anti-hero Herod and that door-slamming innkeeper?

You decide.

Our biggest interactive project since we recreated The Ark back in 2003, Roll on Christmas will be brought to you through the holy alliance of Ship of Fools and Bible Society – with more than a little help from our friends at Jerusalem Productions.

Designed for those of little, no and profound faith (yes, everyone), Roll on Christmas will be free to pass on to your friends, who can cast their own characters. From among their friends. And so on. And so on. And beneath all the viral merriment? A simple, propaganda-free reminder of the mystery of the incarnation.

"Part of our mission is to make the Bible accessible within contemporary culture," says Ben Whitnall, Bible Society's digital advocacy officer. "With social media so prevalent we were keen to bring a project to light around Christmas which fits naturally into Facebook. Ship of Fools has a rich history of experimenting with new media and we were delighted with their suggestion of a creative partnership."

"Roll on Christmas is a two-minute farce about how the story gets lost in the madness that is modern Christmas,” says Ship of Fools editor Simon Jenkins. “Our cunning plan is that this comedy game will entertain Facebookers, but also send them away with an idea in their heads about why it all went so badly wrong.”

Ship of Fools and Bible Society are working with Bafta-winning animators Complete Control. Based in Bath, UK, Complete Control have designed online, interactive children's entertainment and educational projects for a host of organisations including the BBC, tiger aspect, The World of Beatrix Potter, CAFOD and Dr Who.

Part pantomime and part parable for our times, Roll on Christmas will roll out from November until the end of December.

"Getting cast as Third Shepherd is no consolation for missing out as Joseph or Mary in the school nativity play," says Steve Goddard, co-editor of Ship of Fools. "Now, at last, here is an opportunity to put things right."

Follow Roll on Christmas on Twitter:
@RollOnChristmas
 
Roll on Christmas has its own Twitter feed... @RollOnChristmas
   
 
 
 
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