Oberammergau Passion Play: Q&A with the director and leading actor

Date Posted: 04/06/2018

GLT spoke to Christian Stuckl, director of the Passion Play which will be taking place in 2020, along with Frederik Mayet, who has previously played the starring role of Jesus Christ. 

The Oberammergau Passion Play takes place every ten years and attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. The next play will be taking place in 2020, and we caught up with the key representatives of the incredible theatrical production.

Interview with Christian Stuckl, director

Q. For those less familiar with the Passion Play, could you give some insight into what it’s about and its background?

The history of the Oberammergau Passion Play begins in 1633. In the midst of the Thirty Years’ War, after months of suffering and dying from the plague, the people of Oberammergau pledged to act out the play of the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ once every 10 years.

Q. It’s be so popular for so long, and still remains a popular trip. Why do you think it’s remained so iconic and popular for visitors?

You only have the chance to see it every ten years and today Oberammergau is the most popular Passion Play in the world. And where else does a whole community come together for almost one year to show such a great story together on stage? I think that is fascinating for a lot of visitors.

Oberammergau Passion Play

Pictured: Oberammergau Passion Play 2010.

Q. As the director of such an important play, it must be quite challenging. How do you tackle something on such a huge scale as this?

For me it is normal to have over 2,000 actors, a huge choir and orchestra on stage. I grew up with it. Personally, it would be much more difficult to stage a solo theatre play!

Q. People come from all over the world to see the Passion Play, but they must also come for the tourism. What else is the appeal of coming to Oberammergau?

Oberammergau is just one hour away from Munich and is located in the Bavarian alps, close to the famous castles Neuschwanstein and Linderhof of the Bavarian King Ludwig II. We have a lot of culture and traditions in our region but also beautiful nature.

Q. Of course, the show isn’t until 2020, but can you give our readers a hint of what to expect and tell them why they should see the Passion Play?

I do not know every detail, but we will definitely have a new stage design, new costumes and of course we will see new faces on stage. For me it is important to always bring a new generation on stage, they are the future.

Interview with Frederik Mayet, Jesus actor and spokesperson

Frederik Mayet

Pictured: Frederik Mayet as Jesus in the 2010 Passion Play.

Q. Frederik can you tell our readers about your own involvement with Passion Plays over the years? 

I grew up here in Oberammergau and my family has been living here for 100 years. But when I was young, we moved away and only came back in 1990. At that time, the Passion Play was already going on, but I wasn’t allowed to take part because you must have lived here for at least 20 years or grown up here to be allowed to play. I think my family came to Oberammergau in 1890. For many people, we are still the new ones.

Q. Even though the show is predominantly a religious production, it’s still so appealing to all kinds of travellers – why do you think this is?

This is a long tradition of almost 400 years, that’s what’s special to me. To this day, half the village comes together and tells this story. You are cobbled together and rehearse together for half a year, even with people you never really knew before. 

And it’s something really beautiful, coming together on stage and seeing 5,000 people every day coming from all over the world to the Passion theatre to see what we here in Oberammergau bring to the stage. 

Oberammergau passion Play 2010.

Pictured: Oberammergau Passion Play 2010.

Q. I know you’ve been in the play both in 2010 and 2000 as well. What has made you so passionate all these years to continue to be involved? And playing Jesus, tell us what that was like?

There is this phrase in the Bible that says: “Jesus was a complete human being and a complete God”. This phrase spoke to me and we discussed it a lot during the rehearsals. How can you show God on a stage? And how can you show the human being that was Jesus? 

The way I or we look at it, Jesus has an idea of the world, of how the world should be. That’s why he wants to bring change, why he fights against old, inflexible structures, that’s why he takes people on board, and acts with an open heart towards those marginalised by society. 

And I found that quite fascinating, focussing on that during the rehearsals and transporting that to the stage somehow. As for showing the Godly, you can’t really do that. Ultimately, we tried to show a human being who is very, very strong and who has a lot of determination.

Q. And finally, in your own opinion why should our readers consider booking a trip to see the Passion Play?

It is definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

Many tour operators will be selling group tickets. Some have already been revealed. Find out more in our latest article

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