After a record setting attendance last season, the Canadian Badlands Passion Play will undergo a script change for next summer’s production of the story of Jesus Christ.
“His stories and his approach is more a work of art than a historical telling,” says Sproule.
Vance Neudorf, the play’s General Manager, says each year’s re-tweaking keeps the story fresh.
“We’re known for that, people come back every year and notice something they hadn’t seen before.”
“That’s what sets us apart,” Neudorf says.
Sproule’s script was chosen from many submissions, and will be worked on by the entire team during script rehearsals– one is planned for November 13 and 14.
Neudorf says changes are as much for the audience as internal people.
“One our founding principles is to further awareness and skill in the arts. In that light we have to try new things to express our creativity,” says Neudorf.
“To tell the Passion Play properly, you have to tell it like a movie script,” Sproule says. “Using a visual spectacle is how you tell a story out there.”
Sproule was intimidated by using the Gospel of John at first, but says he had an epiphany on how to tell it. An epiphany he is not ready to divulge yet.
Along with the gospel changes from the synoptics to John, the Passion Play will be using speaker systems to enhance the experience, despite being performed in a natural amphitheater using the walls of the badlands.
“We’ll be able to track an actor from speaker, to speaker, to speaker,” says Sproule, “that has huge reprucussions on how I write a script. Speaking won’t get swallowed up by a massive blue sky and six acre set. It’s really a three dimensional sound.”
An example of how a 20 speaker system could change the way the Passion Play is viewed is how it can move the eye of an audience.
Instead of having an actor on stage shout and point to a figure on the hills surrounding the stage, a speaker could use deep drums to signal an enemy patrol lurking behind. Excessive words need not be used.
“It’ll still be a visual play, not a wordy thing," says Sproule.
The Gospel of John is a mystical, cryptic and moody atmospheric gospel, says Sproule, who are adapting the story to an audience in the 21st century.
The Passion Play will run on July 15-17 and 21-24, 2011.