Oberammergau Passion Play

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Oberammergau Passion Play

May through October, once every decade in years ending in zero
The most famous of Passion plays, held since the 17th century in the small woodcarving village of Oberammergau, Germany, in the Bavarian Alps.
The play, depicting the story of Christ's suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection, is presented in six hours by a cast of about 2,000. All performers are villagers, and the 600 with speaking parts are required to have been born in Oberammergau. The role of Mary is traditionally played by an unmarried woman. Close to half a million people attend the productions, which are staged in an open-air theater seating 5,000.
Legend says that the play was first performed in 1634 in fulfillment of a vow. The plague was sweeping Europe, and the Oberammergau elders swore to God that they would reenact the Passion of Christ if he would spare the remaining villagers; already a fifth of the population had been lost. The plague passed by, and the play has been performed since then (shifting to decennial years in 1700), except in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War and during World War II. In modern times, the play has aroused protests that the 1860 text had anti-Semitic overtones. Director Christian Stückl and assistant director Otto Huber revised the text and music for the 2000 Passion Play in response to those concerns.
CONTACTS:
Oberammergau Tourismus
Eugen-Papst-St. 9a
Oberammergau, D-82487 Germany
49-8822-922-74-0; fax: 49-8822-922-74-5
www.oberammergau.de/ot_e/index.htm
SOURCES:
EncyEaster-2002, p. 458
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 86
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 146