Our hotel for the performance weekend.
Performed every 10 years since 1634 as pledged by the inhabitants of Oberammergau (with the exception of a 1770 imposed ban by the Roman Catholic Church and the two World Wars), the play has evolved in its production. But its story of the life and death of Jesus is still performed using only local inhabitants. This year that meant some 2,000 villagers or about half of Oberammergau were involved, acting the roles, singing in the large choruses, staging the tableaux vivants, playing in the orchestra, designing stages and costumes, etc. Children and animals were also on stage in the play's first half, and before the audience entered the theatre, you could wander the grounds and see the children playing and animals grazing as they waited their cues.
Painted entrance to the Museum
I remember seeing a rehearsal of the Play back in 1969, while I was living in Bavaria. Much has changed since then, including the very improved theatre itself. Back then, the area was also still famous for its quality wood carvers, but few were represented in the town this visit, except in the Museum.
Among its woodworking treasures, the Museum houses carved renderings of past mise-en-scènes for the Passion Play, plus collections of toys and figures of saints. These photos were taken behind glass in small dark rooms without flash and around people's heads (and elbows), so I hope you can see the remarkable details of this small sampling through the glare and blur. :)
While poking around the town, I did get myself invited into one woodcarver's studio and took a few photos, trying not to disturb him while his father worked on metal pieces nearby. Naturally, I'm always a sucker for hand tools.
Enough photos for now. But I'd like to show you some of the wonderful painted frescoes next. Will you come back?