A hairy affair

The jesus actors Rochus Rückel and Frederik Mayet before their last visit at the hairdresser.

The two Jesus actors Rochus Rückel and Frederik Mayet meet in front of the hairdressing salon Kretschmar in Oberammergau. Both would like to take the opportunity to have their hair and beard cut one last time before the hair and beard decree is in force on Ash Wednesday.

All participants of the Oberammergauer Passion plays are encouraged to let their hair, the men also their beards, grow, so almost half of the inhabitants of Oberammergau. Excluded are, for example, only the actors of the Roman soldiers, the members of the orchestra and also the members of the fire department or the medical service.

For most actors, the hair and beard decree is the starting signal for the preparations for the role. Frederik Mayet says, that with the hair growing one also grows into the role bit by bit.

Barber Adam shaves Frederik Mayet

In the hairdresser's salon Kretschmar in Oberammergau there is a boom before the hair and beard decree. But the salon is also well positioned for the Passion period: Customers from the surrounding villages, colorations and hair and beard care secure the business. And, of course, lace trimming is also permitted. Since the evening play exists, visitors oft he Passion Play also come to cut their hair in the mornings before the Play starts. The owner Katharina Daisenberger would like to use the somewhat quieter time for renovation work in the salon. Her mother Gabriele takes part in The Entry into Jerusalem, together with her granddaughter. An extraordinary experience, that she is particularly looking forward to this time.

Hairdresser Katharina Daisenberger cuts the hair of Rochus Rückel.

Frederik Mayet and Rochus Rückel

At the last Passion Play in 2010, after the Dernière, they had their salon open all night long, cutting and shaving the performers' hair and beards until the early hours of the morning. The 84-year-old barber Adam has been working in the salon since 1954 and still shaves.  In 2020 he experiences his 8th Passion Play, not including the Rosner rehearsal in 1977.

With the hair and beard decree, a very special time begins in Oberammergau, filled with the Passion idea.

Text: Jenny Greza
Photos: Andreas Stückl

Rochus Rückel and Frederik Mayet after their visit at the hairdresser