Our first sight-seeing trip last year in Germany was down to Bavaria to see a famous castle. We immediately began hearing about Oberammergau's Passion Play. Oberammergau is a cute little Bavarian town of 5,000 residents with many wood carving shops. Every ten years, the town comes alive for six months with almost daily performances by its locals of the Passion Play. They do it to fulfill a promise made to God in 1633 for their continued preservation. Ryan and I went on Friday and loved it!
The opening scene made me emotional. Little children began running across the stage waving palm fronds until the crowd on stage swelled to accommodate the entire cast of 1,000 residents celebrating Christ's triumphal entry on a donkey into Jerusalem. Most were celebrating, except for the curious and/or vexed Roman sentries and some Jewish leaders in fabulous costumes.
As I began to write about the sets, costumes, chorus and orchestral performances - these words kept coming to mind: simple, utmost quality, profound, beautiful, flowing. We really enjoyed it - all five hours of it! Worth the high price of the tickets? We think it was.
The entire performance is in German but they sell 5 euro "textbooks" with the entire script in German and English. For the majority of the play, it was easy to read along because there was a lot of dialogue and not much action. It was dark for the final three acts and my eyes were tired of trying to read along and catch all the action so I just watched and still loved it.
The theater seats 5,000 people and seemed full. Ryan joked about the average age of attendees but all that sat around us were very nice Germans - even more so after the three hour dinner intermission with a bit of alcohol consumed! Anyone going should take a little flashlight and binoculars might be nice. Our German neighbors from Regensburg shared theirs with us.
I really loved the script and development of characters like Peter, Judas, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea. Regardless of "accuracy", so much ground was covered and you can't help but enjoy what they've done here!
My other most favorite part is where Christ is taken off the cross. I don't believe I've ever seen this dramatized before and it was very moving. When they laid him in his mother's arms, it was more than I could bear even though I didn't understanding what was said. So moving.
On a personal note, I'm almost finished reading The Peacegiver, a great read to understand and apply the Atonement. Seeing this Passion Play right now was perfect timing!
For more information: Passion Play Oberammergau 2010