Talk: Theater as Tradition — The Passion Play in Oberammergau

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February 2 @ 7:00 pm


Christian Stückl in Conversation with Frank Hentschker

What does tradition mean in an increasingly diverse world? Join us for a conversation between Christian Stückl, director of the Oberammergau Passion Play and the Münchner Volkstheater, and Dr. Frank Hentschker of the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, CUNY Graduate Center as they discuss revitalizing traditional theater for our modern world.

Since first directing the Oberammergau Passion in 1990, Christian Stückl has been determined to extend the theme of resurrection beyond scripture. The play was historically anti-Semitic, earning praise from Hitler in 1934 and drawing criticism from Jewish activist groups in the post-war decades. While change has been gradual, the play has evolved under Stückl’s direction to be more inclusive, preserving the themes of resurrection, hope, and faith while eliminating the play´s anti-Judaic elements. By centering a menorah at the Last Supper table and incorporating Hebrew into the script, Stückl roots Jesus in the Jewish tradition and aims to bridge the gap between a violent past and an inclusive future.

Stückl has similarly approached the concept of Volkstheater in his tenure as the artistic director of the Münchner Volkstheater. This genre is known for its inclusion of folk tales, dialect literature, and vulgar satirical works. Since 2002, Stückl has shifted the parameters of Volkstheater by showcasing largely young directors, particularly in the annual Radikal Jung festival.

The Oberammergau Passion Play is steeped in the myth of resurrection. After the town was ravaged during the Black Death, the community leaders pledged to produce a Passion every ten years if God spared them from further death. Legend has it that no one in Oberammergau has succumbed to the plague since the play was first performed in 1634. Nearly 400 years later, it´s a force that fosters community and stability – nearly half of Oberammergau’s 5,000 citizens will take to the stage for the 42nd production in 2020.

Christian Stückl (born Oberammergau, 1961) is the artistic director of the Münchner Volkstheater as well as the play director of the Oberammergau Passion Play. He will direct the Passion for the fourth time in 2020.

Dr. Frank Hentschker is on the Faculty of the Ph.D Program in Theater as well as the Executive Director and Director of Programs at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center at the CUNY Graduate Center. He holds a Ph.D. in Theater from the Institut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft der Universität Gießen in Gießen, Germany.


February 2
7:00 pm
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