Pied Piper Open Air Theater

Pied Piper Open Air Theater

Sundays, mid-May through mid-September
A dramatization of the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, presented on an open-air stage in Hamelin (or Hameln), Germany.
According to the legend, in 1284 Hamelin was infested with rats. A stranger appeared, wearing an outlandishly colored (pied) coat, and he promised to free the town of its plague of vermin if they would pay him a set sum of money. The town agreed, and the piper began playing his pipes, and all the rats and mice came out of the houses and gathered around the piper. He led them to the Weser River, walked into it, and they followed him and were drowned. But the citizens refused to pay the piper. He left, angry. On June 26, he returned, dressed as a hunter and wearing a red hat. He played his pipes, and this time children followed him. He led 130 children out of the town and to the Koppenberg hill where they disappeared—forever. Only two children remained behind. One was blind, and couldn't see where the children went, and one was mute.
Research tends to discredit the legend. One theory is that the ratcatcher was Nicholas of Cologne, who led thousands of German children on the disastrous Children's Crusade in 1212. Another holds that the story stemmed from the arrival of a labor agent who lured many young men to Bohemia with the promise of good wages.
Fortunately, the people of Hamelin don't let research get in the way of a good story. Today, the children of Hamelin are the principal performers in the play, and their number is limited to 130 in keeping with the legend.
Robert Browning, the English poet who wrote the poem "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" to amuse a sick child, described the vermin this way:
Rats!
They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles...
When the piper arrived and began to play, Browning wrote,
...out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, gray rats, tawny rats . . .
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives—
Followed the Piper for their lives.
And then when the piper led the children off to Koppenberg, a portal opened wide, the piper and the children entered, and—
When all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountainside shut fast.
CONTACTS:
Hameln Marketing and Tourismus GmbH
Deisterallee 1
Hameln, D-31785 Germany
49-5151-957-82-3; fax: 49-5151-957-84-0
www.hameln.com