Passion Play

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Passion Play (Passiespel in Afrikaans) can refer to a number of things:

(1) the name for a theatrical concept (i.e. a particular kind of play)

(2) specific religious plays/performances taking place across the globe, about the crucifixion of Christ.

(3) a 1981 British stage play by this name, written by Peter Nichols.

Passion Play as a concept

Passion play is the term for a play based on the crucifixion of Christ, and is usually performed during Easter.

For more information, see

Specific passion plays

The most famous Passion Play in the world today is probably the Oberammergau Passion Play, though there have been , and are today again, many other versions in various countries. (See

Passion plays in South Africa

Though not a Catholic country, there have been, and still are, a number of Passion Plays put on in the country, in a number of South African languages.

Among them are:

The Durban Passion Play

The Passion Play was first performed in Durban by the Durban Catholic Players Guild in 1952, after they had obtained permission from the town of Oberammergau in Bavaria to stage an abridged version of their play. It has been staged every five years since then, in latter years in association with the Playhouse Company.

In the 2015 version, the cast consisted of over 130 amateur actors from all religious denominations who volunteered their services and receive no remuneration at all. There was a seven-month rehearsal period and 24 performances.


The Durban Passion Play, artSMart, 04/11/2015[1]

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The Passion Play in the Cango Caves

In the 1960s a platform was set up just inside the cave entrance in the main chamber and every year a Passion Play was performed because the acoustics were so good. However, this was discontinued in 1964 because of damage done to the main chamber by playgoers.

In 1991 the Passion Play was revived, now performed in the Van Zyl Hall, now using an Afrikaans text entitled Só Moes die Liefde Ly ("Thus Love had to suffer"), written by Charles Fryer. The text constantly evolved over the years and the cast kept increasing, with the performances drawing audiences from across the globe.

The text has not been published.

On the text itself, see Só Moes die Liefde Ly


Erika Terblanche: Charles Fryer (1946-2014), LitNet Skrywersalbum [2]

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Die Hermanus Passiespel

Officially known as the Hermanus Passiespel (Hermanus Passion Play), this is an annual event taking place on Good Friday in the old harbor of the coastal town.

Created by former drama teachers Lisma Kotze (1935-2016), who also wrote the script, and her husband Koos Kotze in 1995. It was run by Lisma till 2003, when she retired and Fanus le Roux, one of the regular actors, took over organiser and director.

Between 80 en 100 local amateur actors take part in the event every year.


The Hermanus Passiespel website at

Mariana Malan. 2016. "Kotze het 'almal lus gemaak vir teater', Die Burger, 15 November 2016: p. 12.

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The title of a secular stage play: Passion Play by Peter Nichols

This is a 1981 play by British playwright Peter Nichols (1927-)[3] dealing with adultery and betrayal.

The original text

It was originally intended to open the Royal Shakespeare Company's new Barbican Theatre, but was produced by them at the London's Aldwych Theatre in 1981. Published by Methuen, 1981.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1981: Performed at the André Huguenet Theatre,directed by Nikolas Simmonds for Pieter Toerien, with Liz Dick, Pauline Bailey, Theresa Brown and Bo Petersen.


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