Passion play in Oberammergau: Resurrection after Corona


in the middle

Status: 05/13/2022 3:02 PM

With Corona delayed by two years, Oberammergau is waiting for the start of the famous Passion Play. Although it was created nearly 400 years ago, passion is more important than ever. The Ukraine war also affected the game.

Anyone who walks in Oberammergau will immediately notice how seriously the people in Oberamergau take their passion. The street scene features an astonishing number of men with long hair and beards. The Hair and Beard Ordinance prohibits male performers from shaving and cutting their hair.

Only Roman soldiers were allowed to have a short haircut and a smooth chin. In order for everything to look as original as possible, hair always grows out of reach of Ash Wednesday in the year before passion. But due to Corona’s transformation, some have not gone to the hairdresser for nearly three years. The ritual is a cult in town and prepares everyone for the role months before the first performance.

Only those who were born in Oberammergau or who have lived in the village for at least 20 years are allowed to play – this is what the law of the game says. Over the nearly 400-year history of passion, it has changed time and time again. For example, until 1984, married women and women over 35 were not allowed to play. Shame, some women from Oberammergau found and fought for the right to participate in the Bavarian Constitutional Court. Passion plays are simply a passion for Oberammergauer as they fight for a role on stage.

# right in the middle: Before the start of Oberammergau’s play forty-second passion

Martin Breitkopf, BR, Daily Topics 10:15pm, May 12, 2022

It should attract more passion

Director Christian Stockel, who is also the director of the Munich Volks Theater, renewed his passion. For the past 30 years, the Oberammergau native has been organizing the games that mean the world to many in the village. Stukel’s handwriting is unmistakable, not only in script and on stage, but also backstage. Thanks to him, citizens without church membership and members of other religious denominations are allowed to participate. Hundreds of years ago, only Christians were allowed to do this.

This time the theatrical director gave one of the most sought-after main roles, the role of Judas, to Muslim. Stöckl loves polarization and provocation. The refugee crisis, Corona and the Ukraine war do the rest. Stage design and costumes are faded and gray – this is intended to emphasize the existing feeling. Stokel also re-edited the text. Jesus’ voice rises in emotion and seems even more desperate about the state of the world.

Christian Stückel, director of the 42nd Oberammergau Passion Billion, renewed the play.

Photo: dpa

Living for passion

There are about 1,800 participants in this passion, including hundreds of children who participated in the big popular scenes. With an average lifespan of about 30 years, my passion is younger than ever. Because of the two-year delay, 300 good citizens withdrew or simply died. However, almost half of the village is involved.

Oberamergau lives by passion. First and foremost, they want to keep the covenant that the grandparents made in the village in 1633 to protect their village from the plague. But passion is the economic driver of almost all businesses and the main source of income for the political community outside of state funding.

The sets and costumes are dull and grey, everything seems more desperate considering the state of the world.

Photo: dpa

Oberammergau is made for passion

The whole village is getting dressed up for this time. Hotels are getting new beds, facades are being renovated, and souvenir shops are stocking merchandise. Everyone—whether hotels, taverns, woodcarving shops, and of course society—must be earned during this time, through which one bridges time until the next passion.

In 2010 at the last Passion event, there were nearly half a million guests in the city. According to Mayor Andreas Rudel, about 40 million euros were earned. “There are other places with big companies that pay business taxes, and we just have the passion,” the mayor said.

A third of the guests come from the USA, Great Britain and Scandinavia. But many other countries are also represented. The village of Oberammergau presents itself as a film set – surrounded by mountains, with Lüftelmalerei in typical Upper Bavarian houses and plenty of wood carvings – mostly from South Tyrol – in shop windows.

Passion and Corona

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on life in Oberammergau more than anywhere else. When director Stückl 2020 pulled the tape with tears in his eyes a few days before the premiere and postponed the Games for two years, it came as a shock to many in the city. Thousands of tickets, hotel reservations and travel arrangements had to be reversed, the performers fell into some kind of shock and the theater of emotion suddenly fell into hibernation.

When the incidence numbers also hit new record values, no one really believed in this year’s premiere. But like the stubborn people of Oberammergau, they conceived of winter cleanliness.

Whether on stage or behind it, everyone had to take a Corona test before entering the Theater of Emotion. Even when state regulations have long been relaxed. The workouts were only in small groups, and there was a lot of effort, but in the end it paid off. There are no restrictions at the Passion Theater, all 4,400 seats can be filled and there is no obligation for spectators to wear masks or auditions.

About two-thirds of all tickets have been sold out, and demand is particularly high from Germany, says Walter Rutz, managing director of Passion Play. It seems that many are longing for such cultural events after the Corona lockdown. Tickets are still available in all price categories from €30 to €180. The Emotional Play will take place in Oberammergau from 14 May to 2 October.

While everything is business as usual for visitors, contributors should continue to test themselves to reduce infection. Another advantage is that all main roles are cast twice. The game can continue even if Jesus gets sick with Corona.

Several performers of the 42nd Oberammergau play Passion on stage with people in their first major rehearsal. Half of the city stands on or behind the stage during the performance.

Photo: dpa

The village unites

Oberammergau is a quarrelsome people. Passionsgemeinde is at the forefront of referendums throughout Bavaria. Whether it’s citizens’ requests for the local leisure pool, snow cannons in the ski area or Passion Play, time and time again. From the design of the interface to the transfer of games to the evening.

But the theater ends every ten years and everyone unites. Young and old come together and create something unique over and over again. Whether it’s theater building or carpentry, villagers reach out everywhere, others study scripts for speaking roles, and others participate in the choir or orchestra.

For half a year they will be together almost every day, and more than 100 shows are on schedule. It’s said over and over again, it’s a tough time and it’s a bond. Socialization is never neglected either. And although the story of the affliction dates back to the past, it particularly fascinates young people. David Bender is present in Emotion for the first time and immediately plays the lead, the angel who drives Emotion as the narrator.

For the 19-year-old, it’s not so much about faith as it is about teamwork. But the role shaped it more and more. For example, he says that if more people learned a slice of Jesus, the world would be a better place. The people of Oberammergau may not be the most religious, but their passion keeps them grounded and puts an end to many conflicts in the village.

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