The history of the Oberammergau Passion Play dates back to the middle of the Thirty Years War. In 1633, after months of suffering from the Bubonic Plague, the people of Oberammergau took a vow to perform the “Play of the Suffering, Dying and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ” every ten years if they were spared. Miraculously from that point on they all survived and true to their promise, the first performance was in 1634. This simple performance was held in a meadow and acted by the villagers. After 1674 they decided to change the date, so as to fall every ten years beginning in 1680. The only time it was not performed, was during World War II. This time the play will open on May 6, 2020 and ends on October 4, 2020.
Who takes part?
The entire cast consists of villagers who have lived in Oberammergau for at least 20 years. They must also be amateurs and people of high moral and ethical principles. Villagers also make the outstanding costumes. As no wigs are used, participants must grow their hair and beards for several months prior to the performances, beginning on Ash Wednesday 2019 according to the “Hair Decree.” There are around 2,300 participants, ranging in age from babies in their mother’s arms, all the way to Anni Drohmann, who at 96 will be the oldest performer on stage.
Photos and bios courtesy of the Oberammergau Passion Play. For more information, please visit the official website.