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Oberammergau Passion Play to be postponed for two years


Photo: Brigitte Maria Mayer | Copyright: Passionsspiele Oberam

John Burger - published on 03/20/20

Organizers hope the historic play will be mounted in 2022.

The Oberammergau Passion Play, the once-every-decade performance of the Passion, death and resurrection of Christ, will be postponed until 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers announced today.

The Administrative District Office of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the area in which the Bavarian village of Oberammergau lies, has invoked a German law, the Infection Protection Act, to delay the play’s performance. Organizers now hope to have the premiere on May 21, 2022.

“The health of  guests and participants has the highest priority, therefore the responsible persons have decided to postpone the premiere of the Passion Play, which was planned for 16th May 2020, to the year 2022,” organizers said in a statement. “The health department has conducted a risk assessment. According to this, it is not possible to carry out the Passion Play into the autumn. It can be assumed that the restrictions on public life can be reduced again if the exponential increase in infected persons can be interrupted. However, we will still have a high risk of recurrent infections over a long period of time. At this stage, it can be clearly predicted that an event on the scale of the Passion Play is not feasible. The risk is too high that new chains of infection will develop. From a preventive health point of view, the event should therefore be prohibited.

“For the municipality of Oberammergau and the directing team of the Passion Play around [director] Christian Stückl, the health of the population also comes first,” the statement continued. “The Corona pandemic has made it impossible to complete this year’s Play without endangering the participants and guests. Furthermore, the perspective for this year is unclear. A postponement of only a few months seemed unacceptable to everyone involved.”

The Passion Play goes back to a vow made in 1633. At that time, the people of Oberammergau vowed to perform the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ if no one died of the plague anymore.

“The people of Oberammergau still want to fulfill this vow,” the statement said. “Therefore the plans to perform the Passion Play in 2022 are currently beginning. The premiere is scheduled for 21 May 2022, further performance dates will be announced at a later date.”

The interruption in the once-a-decade schedule is not without historical precedent. In 1770, the Passion Play could not take place due to a general ban, and in 1940 the Second World War prevented a performance. For the 1920 Passion Play, the municipal council decided not to press ahead with preparations for the Passion Play in view of the large number of World War I casualties, so the Passion Play was postponed and held in 1922.

Organizers said that people who have already purchased tickets for this year will be able to convert them into a reservation for 2022 or receive a refund. Information and refund forms will be available soon on the website

For the Oberammergau Passion Play 2020, a total of 103 performances were planned from May 16- October 4. About 450,000 spectators from all over the world were expected.

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