Oberammergau - Passion Play
Passion Play 2022
Since 1634, the village of Oberammergau, Germany, has performed the Passion Play every 10 years. Since 1680, the play has been performed in a year ending in a zero. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the production had to be postponed until 2022. Although it has been delayed, the show must and will go on!
According to legend, an outbreak of bubonic plague devastated Bavaria during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648). Bad Kohlgrub was so depopulated that only two married couples remained alive. The village of Oberammergau remained plague-free until 25 September 1633, when a man named Kaspar Schisler returned home after working in the nearby village of Eschenlohe. Over the next 33 days, 81 villagers would die, half of Oberammergau’s population. On 28 October 1633, the villagers vowed that if God spared them from the plague, they would perform a play every 10 years depicting the life and death of Jesus. Nobody died of plague in Oberammergau after that vow, and the villagers kept their word to God by performing the passion play for the first time in 1634.
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, which are scenes from the Old Testament depicted for the audience by motionless actors accompanied by verbal description. These scenes are the basis for the typology, the interrelationship between the Old and New Testaments, of the play. They include a scene of King Ahasuerus rejecting Vashti in favor of Esther, the brothers selling Joseph into slavery in Egypt, and Moses raising up the nehushtan (bronze serpent) in the wilderness. Each scene precedes that section of the play that is considered to be prefigured by the scene. The three tableaux mentioned are presented to the audience as prefiguring Christianity superseding Judaism, Judas selling information on the location of Jesus, and the crucifixion of Jesus.