Customs – Oberammergauer in the final surge of emotion – Culture

Oberamergau (dpa) – Rehearsals take place every day, ticket sales in full swing: the final race for Oberammergau’s passion play, which has been postponed for two years due to Corona. “We are in the final preparations,” Mayor Andreas Rudel (CSU) said Wednesday.

It is the first major event to be held in Germany after the Corona years. “We have not lost our hearts in believing in passion.” Premiere on May 14th.

There were many obstacles. “We had a patient with coronavirus at almost every rehearsal. It was really hard to get everything together,” says game director Christian Stockel. But in the past few days, some kind of calm has returned. About 75 percent of tickets for nearly 100 shows have been sold out through October 2. Of the 65 percent, Oberammergau is in black.

Corona fears are decreasing. He’s glad the audience doesn’t have to be tested and controlled. However, players will continue to be tested, and all main roles are double crew. If both the actors of Jesus or Mary really fell ill, the performance would have to be cancelled.

Stage and costume designer Stéphane Hagenier promises some bleak images. The war in Syria was already raging when he was designing collections and costumes, and the refugee crisis wasn’t over yet.

The world has changed since the last passion in 2010, when the game was full of color. Stückl, who will be presenting the amateur play for the fourth time, wants to focus more on the life and mission of Jesus. “We used to tell the story of Jesus’ Passion. But the story of life is very important. What did he want in his life – and why was he crucified?”

It is less about theological questions and more about the actions of Jesus. The divide between rich and poor, flight, expulsion and war – these are the basic themes of Stockel.

Amateur game update

The 60-year-old modernized the almost 400-year-old amateur play he first performed in 1990. He gave women more weight in it. He also freed the game from anti-Christian Judaism, and won many awards.

Stückl lets Jesus speak Hebrew. “We are trying to make it clear that the entire play is not about a Christian-Jewish conflict.” Rather, he is an inner Jew. At no time did Jesus think about founding a Catholic church. “Jesus was an omnipresent Jew. He fought for the Law of Moses.”

The music has also been redesigned under the direction of Marcus Zwink. The orchestra and choir – together about 120 people – aim to provide a seamless transition between scenes from Jesus’ life and the vivid images of the Old Testament.

The link to the origin of the Passion has also been drawn: for the first time, members of the choir wear clothes that can date back to 1634 – a time when the plague-stricken Oberammergau vowed to perform the Passion every ten years. After that, according to legend, no one died from the plague.

Jesus rode a real donkey

Despite all the renovation: much remains traditional. The costumes are historically based on Jesus’ travel to Jerusalem on the back of a real donkey. Can a woman play Jesus on stage? Stockel says he probably won’t test that.

A total of 2,100 Oberammergau people, and therefore more than a third of the population of 5,000, take part in the show. There are enough young players among the players, carrying the passion of 20 to 35 years. The public sees it differently. In order to bring even more youngsters home, there will be additional youth rehearsal shows from around the world for the first time next weekend. Several thousand youngsters from Germany, but also from Sweden, Canada, Austria, India and Eritrea, among others, will witness the rehearsals – some 8,800 tickets are available at deeply discounted prices.

The G7 summit in Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the end of June is clearly casting a shadow. The police wanted the Passion Theater to be fenced off. They will follow, even if – “I personally don’t like it” – Stückl says “We all feel like we’re in the zoo. Long hair and fences all around us.”

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220504-99-157130 / 2

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