What you need to know about visiting Oberammergau Passion Play

The world-famous amateur play of Oberammergau dates back to 1633. When the plague spread to many parts of Europe some 400 years ago, it did not stop at the upper Bavarian village. At that time, its inhabitants vowed to perform the Passion and Death of Christ every ten years, on the condition that no one would die from the plague anymore.

The village heard, so the people of Oberammergau played the first sentimental play in 1634. The last Passion Play took place in 2010. 515,000 people from all over the world attended this great event. The crowd will likely be similar this year. An overview of what you should know about it.

How long will the 2022 Passion Play tournament be in Oberammergau?

The 42nd passion play was supposed to take place in 2020. But Corona thwarted the amateur game that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world. Matches have been postponed for two years due to the pandemic, and are now taking place from May 14 to October 2 – for the fourth time under the supervision of Christian Stückel. Mondays and Wednesdays are game-free.

Who can participate?

Half of Oberammergau, a town in Upper Bavaria with a population of 5,000, traditionally participates in the passion play. In addition to the large figures of Jesus, Mary, Peter, Judas, Pontius Pilate, and Caiaphas, there are 120 larger and smaller roles of speaking, as well as soldiers, priests, and Jerusalem residents. Only people born and raised in Oberammergau or who have lived in the village for at least 20 years are allowed to participate. A total of about 2,100 amateur actors from Oberammergau are taking part this year, 500 of whom are children.

What is special this year?

For the first time this year, a Muslim is taking on a leading role: Oberammergau member Cengiz Görür is celebrating his debut as Judas in a leading role. Director Christian Stockel stressed that he did not want to see a provocation in this acting. His second director, Abdullah Karka, is also Muslim and plays the role of Nicodemus.

Who plays Jesus?

Frederic Mait plays Jesus, who takes on the role for the second time, as well as Rochus Ruckel, the second youngest actor to play Jesus in the nearly 400-year history of the passion play. One of the challenges, Might says, is the agonizing ten-minute agony on the cross. Then he had to hang “dead” on the cross for another ten minutes – without shivering or shaking.

When Jesus is taken off the cross and laid on the ground, there is sometimes a heat covering as a base. There is also a shower behind the scenes of the actors stained with fake blood and the other two being crucified. The shower is also used for heating. By the way, Mayet and the second representative of Jesus, Rückel, are attached to the cross by a climbing belt under the apron. Hands and feet are fixed under the bent nails, and the feet stand on a small board.

Are there offers in other languages?

Passion plays in German only. There are no translations, but there are textbooks in English, Spanish and French.

Are there still tickets to play Passion?

A total of 103 shows were planned and at the beginning of May not all of the shows were sold out. Tickets can still be purchased on the Passion Play website, as they cost between 30 and 180 euros, depending on the category. The Passiontheater has approximately 4,700 covered seats. It was built in 1928 and the auditorium dates back to 1898. The entire theater was renovated ten years ago. In the meantime, the majority of the stage can also be protected from rain with a sliding roof.

Where is the best parking spot in Oberammergau?

According to the organizer, there are two large car parks on the outskirts of the Passion Play – “P&R Süd” and “P&R Nord”. From there, shuttle buses run to the event site. Parking fee is five euros per day. Near the theater there are parking spaces for people with disabilities. There are no public parking spaces in the city centre.

Alternatively, you can arrive by train. The event site is just a few minutes’ walk from the train station (beware taking the last train of the day, or plan instead for an overnight stay).

How long should you plan to visit?

The performance, with the exception of the rest period, lasts for five hours and begins in the afternoon with the entry into Jerusalem and tells the story of the Passion during the Last Supper of the Crucifixion. It ends in the evening with the resurrection.

Good to know: there is a longer three-hour break in between, during which you can walk around Oberammergau, visit the local museum and maybe eat something.

With material from EPD News Agency

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