Monday, October 23, 2017

At The Canadian Badlands Passion Play

The Alberta town of Drumheller, is famous for three things; Dinosaurs, Star Trek, and The Canadian Badlands Passion Play. It was the last of these three things which drew us to that unusual little town this summer. 

The play is a dramatic and musical presentation of the life of Jesus, as portrayed in the Biblical gospels; set in an enormous outdoor amphitheatre. The vast set is divided into different areas, each representing the different settings of the well-known stories around 1st Century Palestine under Roman occupation. Bethlehem, Galilee, Nazareth, Herod's palace, The Temple, Pilate's quarters, and of course Calvary are all there. The hills behind the set are also brought into use, as angels appear and disappear. Portraying Herod in such comic terms was a surprising twist, and when Herod lapsed into Trump-speak, it was genuinely hilarious!

We were there on the opening night of the 2017 season. The actors looked very nervous as they began, and hesitated their way through a couple of opening scenes. Then as they reached the 'sermon the mount' scene, everything came together and the whole thing suddenly took off. It was at that point that I became unaware of the folks in the seats around me and was drawn right into the story. 

I should add that all these photos were taken before and after the performance and I did respect their "no-photography during the play" policy.

It was wonderful to see the gospel story given such a compelling and vivid dramatisation. The trial and crucifixion of Jesus was very moving, and extremely well done; the horror and violence of the event somewhat downplayed beneath its sheer significance; gripping for adults without unnecessarily disturbing the children. (No Mel Gibson direction!). The resurrection was in contrast somewhat understated.

Weirdly, all three cars in which our group drove to Drumheller from Rosebud had failures on our remote control keys, and couldn't open our car doors. A local wryly told me that there are strange radiation patterns around there, because all the aliens who land in Canada are stored in a secret military base just outside the town. It seems a but rough to lock them up, I assume they just want to visit the Star Trek museum.... 

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