Friday, 23 August 2013


Next performances in 2020.

Oberammergau lies in the Bavarian Alps in Germany. The people of that village vowed to God that if he spares them from the bubonic plague they would perform, forever, every 10 years the life and death of Jesus.

Since death after the pledge was made subsided they believed their people were spared. They kept their promise and their first performance was in 1634.
Nowadays the play is performed every 10 years for 5 months and with 102 performances. The next passion play is in 2020. It involves 2000 people, including musicians and stage technician but only people from the village itself are allowed to take part. The men will grow their hair and beard in preparation. People in the village and right through the Alps are deeply religious. Therefore the play is performed right from their heart and with sincerity, which shows in the play.
The play starts with the Old Testament. A scene of King Ahasuerus rejecting Vashi in favour of Esther. Then the brothers sell Joseph to the Egyptian, Moses rising up the bronze serpent in the wilderness. The three tableaux Christianity superseding Judaism, Judas selling Jesus, and the crucifixion.
Although looking very authentic they are all local people because only local people are allowed in the play. They let their hair and beards grow months before that. 

All in all the play is 7 hours long with meal break provided. The performance starts at 14.30, three hours interval, and finishes at 22.30.
Audiences are coming from all over the world.
At the beginning the parish church proved too small and they held it in the graveyard of the church before the village people who died of the plague.
The fame of the play spread and in 1674 seat were provided.
Stage and stage mechanism were added and in the 18th century it proved the churchyard was too small.
They built a stage on the field nearby but every time they perform the play. 1815 through the local priest made them built a permanent stage. In 1830 it had to be expanded. Now the only problem was that when it rains the audience got wet and if they put up their umbrellas the people behind couldn't see the play.
1890 a purpose-built theatre was built. It was ready for the 1900 performance and had a six arched hall with 4000 seats.
1930 it was enlarged again and criticized for looking ugly but it has a great acoustic and stage view.
1990 the theatre was redesigned again with seating more comfortable, under floor heating, cloakrooms added and accessible for wheelchair.
Today it has a capacity of 4700.
The village itself, as you can see on my last two pictures, is an experience by itself. The heavily painted houses, and these are only two of them, makes it a visit all well worth while. You also find hand-carved ornaments, so well made which you won't find anywhere else in a hurry. Their belief and sincerity shows in their work.
From Oberammergau you will able to take excursions to the castles of King Ludwig II and sightseeing in the Alps.
Considering all these opportunities included it would be really worth while to visit the Oberammergau Passion Play. An experience you will never forget.

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