Author Topic: Oberammergau's Passion Play: Still passionate after 375 years  (Read 792 times)

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Offline Chris_

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Oberammergau's Passion Play: Still passionate after 375 years
« on: September 14, 2009, 07:36:56 AM »
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Oberammergau's Passion Play: Still passionate after 375 years

Jesus is my best friend. We once shared a room in Jerusalem," Carsten Lück says with a grin. His thick head of hair, moustache and beard give him a Biblical look – and so it should. Lück is one of 1,000 actors preparing for the 2010 Oberammergau Passion Play. "Judas has the most demanding part. I try to show that he really was Jesus's best friend before betraying him."

In real life, Lück is good friends with "Jesus"; after all, they grew up together in this village, an hour south of Munich. As I stroll down the main street, cast members are easy to spot as they go about their everyday jobs: bearded waiters and postmen, mustachioed shopkeepers and hoteliers. No wigs or false beards are worn on stage, so men start growing their hair 15 months before opening night. Policemen have special dispensation to abandon their "clean shaven" rule. After all, as I am told, the Passion Play is older than the constabulary.

Oberammergau's Passion Play was first performed in 1634. Threatened by the plague, the villagers vowed to put on a play about the "Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ" every 10 years. They survived and have kept their promise ever since.

And it is still a communal effort. On a backstage tour of the 4,800-seat Passion Play Theatre, our guide Maria explains that: "Only those who were born or have lived in Oberammergau for 20 years are allowed to take part." Half the population, about 2,500, is involved in acting and playing in the orchestra, set-building and sewing costumes. "The crowd scenes are huge. As many as 900 people are on the open-air stage at one time."


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I played a Roman soldier in my church's Passion Play many years ago.  It was pretty tough taking Jesus down the aisle of the church to be crucified while audience members were sobbing.
If you want to worship an orange pile of garbage with a reckless disregard for everything, get on down to Arbys & try our loaded curly fries.