Play director Christian Stückl already has a special guest in mind for the next Passion Play: “I would love to welcome Obama and his family”, says the 56-year old. “They could live in my house”, jokes the theatre director, who will direct the Oberammergau Passion Play for the fourth time in 2020.
Along with Frederik Mayet, Jesus actor in 2010 and now media spokesperson of the Passion Play, he went on a ten-day-tour through America. “Once every ten years, we have to tell people about the Play, otherwise we’ll be forgotten”, Mayet explains. The two visited San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, New York and Toronto. They may not have met the former US-President Barack Obama, but they talked to more than 250 journalists, travel agencies and representatives of cultural and clerical institutions. The almost 400-years-old tradition of the Passion Play is met with fascination in the USA and in Canada.
The first foreign visitors to the Passion Play came as early as the mid-19th century, when tourism entrepreneur Thomas Cook discovered Oberammergau as a travel destination. The decades since then have seen many famous visitors from the USA: In 1992, the later US-President Herbert Hoover saw the Passion Play. In 1930, automotive manufacturer Henry Ford came to Oberammergau and in 1950, Dwight D Eisenhower was in the audience. In 2010, the archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan attended the play.
The premiere of the 42nd Passion Play will be on 16th May 2020. The Passion Play goes back to a pledge of the year 1633, when the people of Oberammergau pledged to act out the suffering and death of Jesus Christ once every ten years in return for no further plague deaths. Once again, more than 2000 local amateur actors, singers and musicians will stand on the impressive stage of Oberammergau’s Passion Theatre, almost half of the village population.