Alpine Europe 2010
Oberammergau Passion Play 2010
The Passion Play Story
The town of Oberammergau, nestled amidst Germany's Bavarian Alps, vowed that if God were to spare them from the effects of the bubonic plague ravaging the region, they would perform a play every ten years depicting the life and death of Jesus. Several months after making this pledge, the death rate in the village fell sharply. The villagers believed they were spared and kept their vow when the play was first performed in 1634. The most recent performance was in 2000. In 2010 the village will perform the play for the 41st time.
The play, now performed repeatedly over the course of five months, during the last year of each decade, involves over 2,000 performers, musicians, and stage technicians, all of whom are residents of the village. The play comprises spoken dramatic text, musical and choral accompaniment and tableaux vivants. The tableaux vivants 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 relationship 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 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.
The Oberammergau play has a running time of approximately seven hours. A meal is served during the intermission of the play. Audiences come from all over the world, with the first tour groups visiting in 1870. Since 1930, the number of visitors has ranged from 420,000 to 530,000.