On our final day in Garmisch- Partenkirchen we headed just up the road to the small village of Oberammergau. The village is famous world-wide for its Passion Play, which depicts the life of Jesus, which is performed every 10 years.
It was Sunday and the village was quiet. As we stopped outside the Passions Theatre we realised that there was an English tour of the theatre at 11am and it was 10.50am. We quickly asked at the desk and bought our tickets and we were told that Daisy was welcome on the tour. In fact we were the only people on the tour.
Our excellent guide gave us a brief history of the origins of the play. The play was first performed in 1634 as a result of a vow made by the inhabitants of the village that if God spared them from the effects of the bubonic plague then sweeping the region they would perform a passion play every ten years. The first play was performed on the hill in the cemetery next to the church. After a change some years ago the play is now performed in years ending in zero or in the final year of each decade so the next year of performance of the play is 2020.
The play is performed from mid May to mid October and last over 5 hours. Until recently it was performed in the morning and afternoon with a break for lunch. Now it is performed in the afternoon and evening with a break for dinner.
Our guide explained that there are about 2000 people all residents of the village involved in performing and staging the play. For an adult to be eligible to be involved you must have lived 20 years in the village. Staging and performing the play must be a logistical nightmare.
Our guide took us into the theatre which dates back to 1890 but has over the years has been renovated and improved to meet the increasing numbers of visitors and modern productions. Today the theatre can seat 4700 people and 2010 saw 102 performances. She was keen to point out the new roof that can be quickly brought into place in case of rain! She also explained that the theatre is used for other events and plays during the intervening years. The acoustics are superb.
We had a look back stage and were shown the costumes and props from the 2010 play and told about the changes to the play over the years.
It had been an extremely interesting tour completed on a high note when we listened to the superb voice of the young man who played Jesus in the 2010 play.