NINE performances on Canada’s largest outdoor theatre stage featuring 200+ actors and farm animals
Drumheller, Alberta – “Despite a slowdown in the Alberta’s oil patch, we are expecting a solid turnout for our 22nd season of The Canadian Badlands Passion Play which features nine performances (July 10-26) about the life of Jesus Christ,” says Executive Director, Vance Neudorf.
“In the past four summers alone, 50,000 people have seen the Canadian Badlands Passion Play. However, there are still thousands of Albertans who have never experienced this magnificent three-hour play. We encourage those Albertans to plan a staycation in the Drumheller area and make the Passion Play a part of their summer experience in the Badlands.
Adds Neudorf, “Albertans need to be reminded that the Passion Play is a ‘big deal’ and it’s right here in their back yard. It is an award winning arts and cultural event. In 2013, the Passion Play was awarded the Alto ‘Pride of Alberta’ award from Alberta Tourism. In 2014, the American Bus Association named the Canadian Badlands Passion Play one of the top 100 events in North America. The only other two Alberta events also named were the Calgary Stampede and Calgary’s Heritage Village. And, in 2015, the Chambers of Commerce of Alberta presented the Passion Play with the Award of Distinction in Arts and Culture.”
“Oberammergau stages a Passion Play in Bavaria, Germany every 10 years. In Drumheller, Alberta, we stage a Passion Play every summer. Albertans who have yet to see the Canadian Badlands Passion Play need to ask themselves how they could live in Alberta and not have experienced this outstanding story – the dramatic retelling of the life of Jesus Christ. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, the Badlands Passion Play is an outstanding theatrical performance that has no equal in North America.”
Managing 200+ actors on a 30-acre stage is a massive undertaking and one that is conducted with military-like precision explains Neudorf. “What many people don’t realize is that every one of those actors has received a custom tailored wardrobe. Some actors, including Jesus are fitted for multiple costumes.”
“A key component of our play revolves around the colours of our costumes and how they connect with our natural surroundings. As an example, our villagers are clothed in the natural colors of the surrounding Badlands, while the teachers of the Law are connected to the blacks and browns of stone buildings and urban industry. Roman warriors, well-known for combat and bloodshed, wear their historic red.”
“From Jesus’ first entry into the world, until His final ascent, He is clothed in blue to symbolize the ‘Light of the World’. When He touches lives, that blue filters through the costumes of the crowd, symbolizing His significant impact on the world around Him.”
The idea for staging The Canadian Badlands Passion Play started in the 1960s when the Honorable Gordon Taylor, Minister of Highways for Alberta, and a local MLA, helped form a local society to produce a Passion Play in Drumheller, Alberta.
In 1988, LaVerne Erickson, founder of Rosebud School of the Arts, formed a steering committee and gained the support of local community organizations to work toward bringing the dream to reality.
In 1990, The Canadian Badlands Passion Play Society had its Charter meeting. Mr. Gordon Taylor was made Honorary Chairman. The site was chosen – one that formed a natural backdrop, very similar to the Israeli countryside that had properties of natural amphitheatre.
From 1990 through 1994, local community support and a growing volunteer base enabled the Society to target the summer of 1994 as the date for its first production. Hundreds of volunteers, thousands of dollars of generous gifts of materials, government grants and the theatrical expertise of the Rosebud School of the Arts all combined to make it happen. The 1,150-seat amphitheatre was completely sold out for all five shows.
Since its first opening night, there have been many changes and additions. Not only does the play improve every year – so do the facilities. Hundreds of volunteers make it all happen – and volunteers remain the backbone of the organization.
In 1997, more seats were added and further enhancements were made to the main staging areas.
In 2001, the Jerusalem Wall was opened. The wall is similar in appearance to the wall of ancient Jerusalem and houses the production offices and audience services.
In 2006, the performance was entirely revamped with a new script by Royal Sproule and new music by Bill Hamm, both of Rosebud. Auditions were held province-wide to develop a broader base of acting talent. Musical instrumentation was added to the production. The play featured the inclusion of a narrator who helps to make the story more personal while “connecting the dots”, helping the audience understand the changes of locations and times.
In 2011, the John script was introduced and the Canadian Badlands Passion Play was featured in an award winning documentary.
In 2014 the American Bus Association named the Canadian Badlands Passion Play one of the top 100 events in North America. The only other two Alberta events were the Calgary Stampede and Calgary’s Heritage Village.
In 2015, the Chambers of Commerce of Alberta presented the Passion Play with the Award of Distinction in Arts and Culture.
The Canadian Badlands Passion Play continues to be a must-attend outdoor theatre attraction that brings to life “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.
The Canadian Badlands Passion Play – Celebrating its 22nd season in 2015
Since its first performance in 1994, The Canadian Badlands Passion Play has gained a provincial, national and international reputation as one of North America’s top ‘must see’ cultural and tourism events. Located near Drumheller, Alberta approximately 90 miles northeast of Calgary, the annual ‘Theatre in the Badlands’ attraction provides its audiences with a dramatic retelling of the life of Jesus Christ. The 200+ performer play is supported by 200 additional volunteers and is presented in a 30-acre natural badlands canyon bowl whose stark and dramatic geographical surroundings mirror those of ancient Israel. In 2015, The Canadian Badlands Passion Play will have nine performances July 10-26. www.canadianpassionplay.com 1-888-823-2001. @CBPassionPlay Like us on Facebook
Friday July 17 6:00 PM Saturday July 18 3:00 PM Sunday July 19 3:00 PM
Friday July 24 6:00 PM Saturday July 25 6:00 PM Sunday July 26 3:00 PM
*All photos by Ron Nickel Photography