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Archive for September 3rd, 2015

Jesus bearing His cross

Jesus bearing His cross

Passion Plays performed outdoors on enormous stages which seem too small (some of the scenes extend into the audience and areas around the stages) are sadly disappearing. These passion plays depict the last days of Jesus Christ, what we often refer to as ‘passion week’. Most often they begin with the Last Supper and include His trial, suffering and death. Years ago I attended one of these dramatic presentations in Puyallup, Washington. I can still remember the cast of hundreds, including livestock. The last days of Jesus on earth came alive to me as I sat there, drawn in as one in the crowd crying “crucify Him”.

Puyallup, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

The Puyallup, Washington venue closed in 2007, after a fire destroyed the two-story stage and amphitheater. The plays had been performed for twenty-five years each summer by a cast of some five hundred volunteers.

Spearfish, South Dakota

Spearfish, South Dakota

On August 30, 2015 the Black Hills Passion Play ended its nearly seventy year run in the Spearfish, South Dakota amphitheater. The theater seated six thousand and had the longest outdoor stage in the country. The Black Hills Passion Play was founded by Josef Meier in May, 1939. The beautiful thing about this play is that it toured the United State and Canada during the fall and winter months. In fact, from 1959 through 1998 the play was performed regularly in Lake Wales, Florida.

When Joseph Meier and his wife, Clare, retired in 1991, their daughter and her husband, Guido Della Vecchia, took over. For over twenty years this amazing family kept the passion play going, even participating in leading roles year after year.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

I attended the passion play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, many years ago. I can still picture the image of the resurrected Jesus rising to the heavens. I am pleased to report that the Great Passion Play still exists and has expanded. Altogether more than 125 actors plus dozens of live animals come together on a three story, 550 foot wide stage to put on this amazing rendition of the Greatest Story Ever Told. You would do well to get to Eureka Springs for an inspiring evening while it is still available.

As far as the expansion: the grounds include the Sacred Arts Gallery, the Bible Museum, the Christ of the Ozarks, the Living Bible Tour and The New Holy Land.

Happy travels!

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