‘The words of Jesus are still relevant today’, rehearsals begin for world renowned Oberammergau Passion Play

Sun 22 Sep 2019
By Tola Mbakwe

The actor who plays Jesus in the world famous Oberammergau Passion Play has said hundreds of thousands of people keep coming back to watch the play because the words of Jesus will always be relevant.

Frederick Mayet told Premier: “The message of Jesus I think it's so important still today. They’re still relevant in our world and I think that’s why people keep coming back.

“And it's different to if you go to the church every Sunday or reading the Gospels.

“If you bring the words on stage and if you tell the story live on stage for the people, you do it with theatrical means, you have nice stage design, you have costumes where people can think that perhaps look like this 2000 years ago, I think people want to see, it want to feel it, want to hear it.

“I think it's a nice way to learn about the message and story.”


Rehearsals have begun for the historical play performed every ten years in the small village of Oberammergau, Bavaria.

More than two thousand actors will take part in 104 open-air performances of the five hour play between May and October next year.

The cast is only made up by people who have lived, or are living in the village of Oberammergau.

Mayet said although he’s honoured to have the role of Jesus, it’s quite daunting because he’s not a professional actor.

He works an artistic director and public relations manager in a theatre in Munich.

“I'm a little scared of the workload everyone has because we are all amateurs." he said. 

“Everyone goes to their regular job during the day and we have rehearsals in the evening and on the weekends. I think it's a lot to do, but we are all so dedicated to the passion play that we that think that we will make it somehow.”

The main cast travelled to Israel to do research on their roles.

Mayet said it gave him a deeper understanding of what it was like for Jesus 2,000 years ago. 

“For example, when you sit at the Mount of Olives you really can imagine how it was perhaps 2000 years ago when Jesus was there praying.

“You get a feeling of how it perhaps was 2,000 years ago. Of course a lot of changed in the country.”

Next year will mark the 42nd production of the play since it first began in 1634.

The idea of the play was formed in 1633 when the residents of the village vowed that if God spared them from the bubonic plague that was ravaging the region, they would produce a play every ten years depicting the life and death of Jesus.

Oberammergau Passion Play is considered to be one of the most important religious and cultural events in Germany. It’s expected to attract nearly half a million visitors in 2020. Tickets go on sale next March. 

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