- Published on Wednesday, 11 July 2012 11:26
- Written by Michael James | © DrumhellerMail.com
The cast and crew have battled both heat and mosquitoes these past two weeks, but are ready to bring the 2012 Passion Play to the Valley.
The play opens on Friday, July 13 and runs until July 22.
“Rehearsals are going great. The new changes to the site are being well received and we’ve made a lot changes to the play again this year. There hasn’t been much change to the dialogue, but the way it’s delivered has changed quite a bit to make a different play,” said Vance Neudorf, executive director of the Passion Play.
Some of the major changes include modifying the costumes, adapting to the larger set, and improving the previous incarnation of the play.
“I think the thing most audiences will see is we’ve done a total redesign of the costumes and set. We’ve done a revamp of the environment and expanded the area to about twice the size. The costume redesign should allow the audience to see everything clearly,” said Royal Sproule, director/writer for the Passion Play.
The costume redesign is meant to help audiences determine which faction the characters belong to. The Romans, temple priests, villagers, and disciples each have a different colour scheme.
“It’ll help them see the play and really see the moments. We’ve been specific with our colour choices to help them track what’s important at any given time on such a giant stage,” said Barrett Hileman, director/writer for the Passion Play.
"The biggest challenge we have as directors is to guide the eye across the stage to the story we want to tell. We can do that with sound, crowd movement, and colour and costume design. There are multiple colours, but we’ve broken down the various factions into different colours so you can see who’s pitted against who,” said Sproule.
The dialogue has also been modified to create a more streamlined, focused play. The script, for the second year in a row, is based on the Gospel of John. In the five years prior, the Passion Play script was based on the Gospel of Matthew.
“We decided to explore things from a different point of view. His perspective is a little more confrontational, it’s grittier, and deeper,” said Neudorf.
“There are three gospels that are very similar and then there’s John, who is quite different. It was challenging. On the surface it appears to be a difficult gospel to present in a visual way. We started brainstorming and the more we did we started to come up with solutions to abstract ideas,” said Sproule.
“About 70 percent of John’s gospel are stories unique to that gospel and aren’t found in any of the others. It’s good for any artistic company to look at things fresh. The Gospel of John is filled with so many images, metaphors, and poetry, there’s something exciting about that. How to translate the poetry to the stage became an exciting challenge,” said Hileman.
The script, combined with the changes to the set, has presented both challenges and advantages for this year’s production.
"I was initially nervous about doing the Gospel of John on such a big set. It has really served the gospel well, it’s probably the space to do the gospel. We get to explore these massive gestures,” said Sproule.
Unfortunately, the new forum space is not yet ready, because of delays caused by the weather and a focus on getting this year’s play up and running.
“The forum seating area, unfortunately, won’t be completed until the fall,” said Neudorf.
The play opens Friday. With the second year of the script, the directors are feeling better about the progress of rehearsals.
“Last year, we felt we were working on the script right up until opening. This year, we have more of a foundation and we’re going after the execution of the script. These next two runs will tighten things up and we’ll be ready to go,” said Hileman.
“In the second year, we were able to see what didn’t work last year, or what was working pretty good, and knock things out of the park. It's amazing what you do in the last week of rehearsal. Until it opens, lots will happen, and be adjusted,” said Sproule. “This is the fun part.”
Tickets are on sale and can be found at www.canadianpassionplay.com or by calling 403-823-2001. If you are planning on attending this year's Passion Play you should bring a small hat, plenty of sunscreen, mosquito repellant, and water.