Black Hills Passion Play theatrical legend
One of Europe’s oldest productions, the Passion Play festival took place in June – August. It recreated events during the last seven days of the life of Christ. Meanwhile, it was first presented on the American stage in 1932. And it was American missionary and ethnologist Josef Meier (7 November 1874 – 28 November 1945) who brought it to the United States from Germany.
Although the story of Christ is eternal, the Black Hills Passion Play was not. Unfortunately, the Black Hills Passion Play had its final curtain call on August 31, 2008. Attendance had dropped throughout the later years. In all, more than 10 million people and four generations of families had attended the Black Hills Passion Play and made it a theatrical legend.
Known as the Black Hills Passion Play since 1939, when the company settled in Spearfish, the huge outdoor production featured Roman soldiers on horseback, a camel caravan, and pigeons escaping from cages as merchants and moneylenders are driven from the Temple. Besides, the amphitheater had seats for 6,000 spectators. Built specifically for the Passion Play, it was the world’s largest stage. A series of permanent sets used to portray Bethany, the home of Mary and Martha; the palace of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor; the Temple; the Garden of Gethsemane; the Tomb; and Mount Calvary.