Passion plays in St. Margarethen, Burgenland
Passion plays, religious lay theatre of medieval origin. They are based on liturgic Easter ceremonies (manuscripts from Melk, 11th and 12th centuries, from Vienna, around 1200, from Seckau and St. Lambrecht, 12th century, from Vorau, 13th century) and Easter plays (manuscripts from Klosterneuburg, 13th century, "Innsbrucker Osterspiel" / "Innsbruck Easter Play", 1391, "Wiener Osterspiel" / "Vienna Easter Play", 1472). In the Alpine countries passion plays flourished during the Middle Ages and the Baroque period. Passion plays, which dealt with the events of Christ's passion, gradually developed into plays of gigantic proportions by the introduction of various features (from the Old Testament, comic elements taken from the Fastnacht plays), their performance often lasting for several days. In addition to Tirol, one of the centres of the passion play, Vienna also gained importance, and passion plays were performed there from the mid-14th century in the chapel of the town hall (Rathauskapelle) as well as from the beginning of the 15th century in St. Stephen's Cathedral. It is recorded that between 1486 and 1519 the wood-carver W. Rollinger was a producer of passion plays in Vienna. Under Joseph II and during the Vormärz period passion plays were banned, but the tradition never died out completely. At the end of the 19th century and after World War I passion plays were still performed in many towns and villages in Austria (mainly in Tirol, Styria, Carinthia and Upper Austria). After 1945 amateur theatre groups revived the old tradition of passion plays (in Erl in Tirol, Kirchschlag in Bucklige Welt region and in St. Margarethen in Burgenland).
Literature: L. Kretzenbacher, Passionsbrauch und Christi-Leiden-Spiel in den SO-Alpenländern, 1952; A. M. Aschenbrenner, Passionsspiele in Österreich, doctoral thesis, Vienna 1953; U. Kammesberger, Das Aufführungsbild des Passionsspiels der Gegenwart, doctoral thesis, Vienna 1965; Passionsspiele im Römersteinbruch St. Margarethen, 1971; H. Holzmann, Erl in Tirol Das Dorf des Passionsspiels, 1979; F. Hadamowsky, Mittelalterliches geistliches Spiel in Wien 1499-1718, 1981.
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