Anton Lang

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Anton Lang

Signed Passion Play Postcard - 1930

Signed postcard from the 1930 Oberammergau Passion Play, in which Lang played the lead role as Jesus Christ.

ANTON LANG (dates indeterminate) played Christ in a number of productions of the Oberammergau Passion Play in the early 20th century—1900, 1910 and 1922.

Oberammergau Passion Play is a passion play that has been performed every 10 years since 1634 as a tradition by the inhabitants of the village of Oberammergau in Bavaria in Germany. The town vowed that if God were to spare them from the effects of the bubonic plague ravaging the region, they would perform a play every ten years depicting the life and death of Jesus. The death rate among adults rose from one in October 1632 to twenty in the month of March 1633. The adult death rate slowly subsided to one in the month of July 1633. The villagers believed they were spared after they kept their part of the vow when the play was first performed in 1634. The most recent performances took place in 2000 and the next will be from May 15 until October 3, 2010.

The play, now performed repeatedly over the course of five months, during the last year of each decade, involves over 2,000 performers, musicians, and stage technicians, all of whom are residents of the village. It can be said that the evolution of the Passion Play was about the same as that of the Easter Play, originating in the ritual of the Latin Church, which prescribes, among other things, that the Gospel on Good Friday should be sung in parts divided among various persons.

The Oberammergau play has a running time of approximately seven hours. A meal is served during the intermission of the play. Audiences come from all over the world, often on package tours, the first instituted in 1870. Since 1930, the number of visitors has ranged from 420,000 to 530,000.

There were at least two years in which the scheduled performance did not take place. In 1770, Oberammergau was informed that all passion plays in Bavaria had been banned by order of the Ecclesiastical Council of the Elector, Maximillian Joseph at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1780, the play was retitled The Old and New Testament. The new Elector, Karl Theodor, having been assured that the play was “purged of all objectionable and unseemly matter” approved the performance of the play. By 1830, the Catholic Church succeeded in halting the performance of all other passion plays in Bavaria. Only Oberammergau remained.


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