Play director Christian Stückl explains who is allowed to participate in the Oberammergau Passion Play. Because not everybody is allowed to participate. Only those who were born in Oberammergau or have been living there for at least 20 years have what is known as the »right to play«.
Who is allowed to be on stage at the Passion Play?
The right to play was introduced in Oberammergau in 1910. Until then, anyone who wanted to play was allowed to. But at one point, the village had become too large and a right to play was invented that allowed those who were born here or had been living here for at least ten years to participate. After the Second World War, a high number of people arrived in Oberammergau so that the ten-year-limit was extended to 20 years. About 3000 of the 5000 inhabitants hold the right to play; last time, more than 2000 people participated, that’s more than 60 percent. I don’t know yet how many will take part this time.
In 2020, Christian Stückl will be the director of the Oberammergau Passion Play for the fourth time
Who decides who will play which role?
In early 2018, everyone will receive a questionnaire in which they can express their wishes: I want to be on or behind the stage, I want to be a scene shifter or I want to receive people outside - all these requests can be made. I will collect all of them, but the final decision will be made by myself and the conductor, because this is the second important aspect: Of course, the conductor will choose his musicians. I will decide on the rest. We have the tradition of letting our hair and beard grow long for the Passion Play. This rule seems to be a challenge for some 30 to 40 year old men because they think that these might be the last years that any woman will look at them, so they all want to be Romans, because for those roles the beard decree doesn’t apply ...
What will change in the village once the Passion Play begins?
What’s so interesting is that we constantly argue about the Passion Play. It shows that we really care about something here. Everyone in the village is somehow involved in the Passion Play and we are in a constant state of argument - this can even lead to real conflicts. So when the Passion Play is approaching, these conflicts become bigger and bigger. You look and struggle to find the right form. When it’s time to choose the actors, the big question is: Who will play which role?
But once you enter the rehearsal phase, once you go to Israel for the first time, once you stand on stage together, the entire village suddenly comes together. Suddenly, all the generations are there. A seven-year-old will be sitting next to a 70-year-old in the dressing room. Suddenly, everyone is less formal with each other, because this is really our biggest social event. And I think that’s what draws people to the Passion Play time and time again: They feel that people are coming together to create something great.
Frederik Mayet and Andreas Richter, the two actors who played Jesus in 2010. The 21 most important roles are double casted.