The village of Oberammergau is by far one of the most interesting stories you will hear in Germany.
The Thirty Years War was a difficult time for this little village. The people were dying of the plague. The villagers met together and promised God that if he spared the village that they would perform a play ever 10 years for the glory of God. Here in 1634, at Pentecost, the Oberammergau Passion Play began. The village is renown for a particular craft. It's wood-carving. I suppose it makes perfect sense that a village dedicated to a Passion Play would have some sort of carpentry as a profession.
Cross etched into mountain in Oberammergau.
Before we moved from Germay to England in 2000 we tried to get tickets for the performance. They were all sold out. Since we were going straight through Oberammergau with the kids, we thought we'd stop at the theater and see if we might get tickets for the 2010 play.
We arrived just in time to see some of the village children exercising the donkeys used in the play. Half of the village will be performing this play. There are over 2000 actors coming and going on stage in this five hour production housed in the incredible open air stage theater built for the Passion play. Only those people born in Oberammergau or who have lived there for over 20 years are allowed to set foot on the stage during the production.
This is a sign posted to tell the actors they should not be cutting their hair. An ordinance goes into effect one year before the play. All the men, women and children involved with the play must not cut their hair or their beards. The lady in the theater told us that is why most of the men would like to play the Roman's. They get to have haircuts and be clean-shaven.
The Passion Play theater.
The play begins this year May 15, 2010 and goes through until November.
2010 marks a difference in the performance, it will start in the afternoon and to be continued with the second part after the intermission in the evening.
Sadly, all the tickets were sold out AGAIN! I do understand, it is a world famous Passion Play. However, I was gravely disappointed until Mac saved the day.
He saw a group of 40 Germans going for a tour. He found that normally the tour is of the theater but the villagers were staging a practice.
Our guide felt terrible that this tour group couldn't walk around the theater and take pictures as usual.
She disappeared and came back with an offer. Something that NEVER happens.
She asked the director Christian Stueckl (Mr. Stueckl was born in 1961 in Oberammergau and performed in his first Passion Play when he was 9 years old) if the tour could sit in on the practice quietly because otherwise they would only see the lobby of the theater. He agreed. He never had before!
My clever Mac quickly asked if we could join the tour group which paid 4 Euros a piece to tour the theater.
Those of you who know me and how much I love acting and the theater know that for me, this was a piece of heaven. Not only did we get to see a bit of the practice, but it was the part where Christ is walking the Via Dolorosa dragging the cross. Watching the director and the love and committment these villagers have for their production was awe inspiring.
We were not allowed to take pictures so you will have to trust me when I tell you
IT WAS MARVELOUS.
Statue of Christ in front of the theater.
Mac gives the fact we got to see a rehearsal 2 thumbs up.
I know it sure made me happy!