The frightened population of Oberammergau prayed to be spared,
taking a vow to be fulfilled not by a few but by the whole community. They vowed to do
something in which everyone, rich and poor alike, would have a part: a Passion Play, the
most sacred of all stories. They would present the story of Christ to the world every 10
years forevermore if the Lord would remove the plague from their people. The town was
spared, and a tradition was born.
The play is now performed at the start of each decade. Since
1860 the German text has remained virtually unchanged. The production is done in native
German, but an English translation is available.
Though the cast is huge 1,700 parts performers
must be Oberammergau natives, or have lived there for 10 years, or been married to a
native and lived there for at least 10 years.
Performers consider it an honor to participate and leave
their businesses to do so. The men even start growing full beards a year out to look
authentic. The play is performed in the Passion Play Theatre on an open stage, which
incorporates the natural setting into the backdrop and seating for 4,780 spectators.
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