This Passion Play is staged in Germany every 10 years | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

theater play
The Passion Play Theatre in Oberammergau | Photo by Sebastian Schulte from Passion Play Oberammergau

The next Passion Play will run from May to Oct. of 2030 at the village of Oberammergau in Bavaria, Germany



The further one gets away from the time a promise was made, the easier it becomes to break it. But almost 400 years since the people of Oberammergau vowed to perform the Passion of Christ every 10 years, they seem to not have any problems with keeping their promise.

The Passion Play is a theatrical display of the events leading to the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since its first showing in 1634, it has been performed every 10 years from 1634 to 1674 and each decadal year since 1680. Held in the village of Oberammergau in Bavaria, Germany, the play continued to run on its intended schedule until it was postponed in 2020 due to Covid. It was eventually staged in 2022 from May to Oct.

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Photo from Passion Play Oberammergau

The 43rd Passion Play is scheduled to take place in 2030.

Historically, the Passion Play locates its roots in 1633, in the middle of both the Thirty Years’ War and a plague. In hopes of making it through the ongoing catastrophe, the townspeople—in an act of desperation and fealty—collectively vowed to stage a performance of the biblical event once every decade. 

According to records written by Pastor Daisenberger, “Faced with the great distress that the terrible illness inflicted upon the population, the leaders of the community came together and pledged to hold a passion tragedy once every ten years. From this day forward, not a single person perished, even though a great number of them still showed signs of the plague.”

Children backstage | Photo by Sebastian Schulte from Passion Play Oberammergau

In 1634, it was first staged inside a cemetery. Now, at the open-air Passion Play Theatre.

The drama is comprised of 12 acts; beginning with Christ’s entry to Jerusalem and ending with his eventual crucifixion and death. Each act is separated by a tableau vivant accompanied by a choral performance.

The play is a whole-day affair, with the first part (acts one to six) often beginning at 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Following a three-hour intermission, the latter of the production continues from 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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While the next staging will not be until 2030, the theater is open for guided tours of the Passion Play’s history

In 2022, a total of 110 performances were staged from May to Oct. Over the course of six months, around 2,000 citizens made up the production’s manpower—from the actors and actresses (some including children) to stagehands and seamstresses. Preparations for the Passion Play can take up to a couple of years, with costumes and set designs being made inside the town itself.

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