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How Oberammergau Traded Theater for Life: A Centuries-Old Bargain Continually Reborn on a World Stage

Amelia Sugerman
by Amelia Sugerman

October 25, 2021

In 1633, the citizens of Oberammergau, Germany made a pact with God: Salvation from the bubonic plague that was tearing through the Bavarian hamlet, in exchange for a theatrical ritual—a Passion Play to be performed once a decade in gratitude to a merciful deity. As legend has it, God happily accepted the offering and not a single other resident of Oberammergau was lost to the plague. And loyally sticking to its side of the bargain, every ten years, Oberammergau has pulled out the greasepaint and put on a show. The only forces that have ever managed to derail this nearly 400-year-old tradition have been wars, and now, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has pushed the 2020 production to 2022. Read more.

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