Wednesday, March 11, 2015


The Crucifixion scene from the Oberammergau Passion Play
Oberammergau is known for a passion play performed since 1634 as a tradition by the inhabitants of the village of Oberammergau, Bavaria, Germany. Since its first production it has been performed on open-air stages in the village. Tradition has it that it is staged every 10 years. The text of the play is a composite of four distinct manuscripts dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. 
The town of Oberammergau with colorful murals on buildings
In 1633, the residents of Oberammergau, Bavaria, Germany, vowed that if God spared them from the effects of the bubonic plague ravaging the region, they would produce a play thereafter for all time depicting the life and death of Jesus. The death rate among adults rose from one person per 1000 per year in October 1632 to twenty in the month of March 1633. The adult death rate slowly subsided to one in the month of July 1633. The villagers believed they were spared after they kept their part of the vow when the play was first performed in 1634. Word spread throughout the region about the play, and it became too expensive to perform every year, so the town decided that every 10 years would be sufficient. 

The open-air stage with the play in process
The play is now performed repeatedly over the course of five months during every year ending in zero. 102 performances took place from May 15 until  October 3, 2010 and is next scheduled for 2020. The production involves over 2,000 performers, musicians and stage technicians, all residents of the village. The play comprises spoken dramatic text, musical and choral accompaniment and tableaux vivants. The Oberammergau production takes place in one day,  but the running time has varied due to the many revisions that have taken place through the years. 
The scene from the Last Supper
The whole play has 16 acts or parts. In 2010 it had a running time of 5 hours, beginning at 2:30 pm and ending at 10:00 pm, with a meal break. According to a record from 1930, the play then had running time of approximately seven hours. It started at 8:00 am and ended at 5:00 pm with a meal break. Audiences come from all over the world, often on package tours, the first instituted in 1870. Admission fees were first charged in 1790. Since 1930, the number of visitors has ranged from 420,000 to 530,000. Most tickets are sold as part of a package with one or two nights' accommodation.

No comments:

Post a Comment