The Oberammergau Passion Play

Essays on the 2010 Performance and the Centuries-Long Tradition

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About the Book

Every ten years since 1634, the Bavarian village of Oberammergau has performed the world’s most famous Passion Play, recounting the last days of Jesus Christ. In 2010, presenting the play for the 41st time, the village broke with tradition to offer a new interpretation for a post-millennial, international audience.
Drawing on interviews with villagers and international responses, this collection of new essays provides an analysis of the play by scholars who attended. Topics include changes in response to charges of anti–Semitism, how the play defines the village, how the performance changes the audience, and a comparison of Oberammergau 2010 with American Passion Plays, Indian pilgrimage drama and other German Passion Plays.

About the Author(s)

Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr., is a professional actor and director whose previous books have covered topics ranging from Star Wars to Renaissance faires. He is a professor and chair of the theater department at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 204
Bibliographic Info: 11 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9603-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2794-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vi

Introduction: ­Forty-First in the ­Twenty-First (Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.) 1

Part 1. Oberammergau 2010: Responses

The Role of Their Lives, or Jesus on a Bike: Oberammergau on Stage and Off (Glenn Ehrstine) 16

“What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing in a Catholic play like this?”: Oberammergau 2010 and Religious Identity (Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.) 32

Dialectical Aesthetics of Change and Continuity in the 2010

Oberammergau Passion Play (Sharon ­Aronson-Lehavi) 53

Part 2. Comparative Oberammergaus

Spiritual Voyeurism and Cultural Nostalgia: Anglophone

Visitors to the Oberammergau Passion Play, 1870–1925

and 2010 (Joshua Edelman) 66

Atemporality in the Heidelberg Passion Play, the Passion Play

of Oberammergau and Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play: A Cycle (Jutta Eming) 88

Tableaus and Selves in Vrindavan and Oberammergau (David Mason) 108

Oberammergau in America/America in Oberammergau (Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.) 130

Part 3. Interviews

An Interview with Frederik Mayet (Actor, Christ) (David Mason) 160

Passion Playing: An Interview with Sarah Ruhl on the Shaping

Influence of Oberammergau (Jill Stevenson) 168

Conclusion: ­Forty-Second in the ­Twenty-First: Oberammergau 2020 176

Works Cited 183

About the Contributors 191

Index 193

Book Reviews & Awards

“fills something of a gap, there are surprisingly few serious scholarly engagements with Oberammergau…Wetmore has gathered essays that probe the history, aesthetics, and cultural analogues and resonances of the Bavarian pageant…well-researched discussion of the US reception and reimaginings of the play…recommended”—Choice.