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Tonight, April 17, 2014 is, or here in the Netherlands was, a huge event. It tries to bring the people back to what currently already half of the Dutch population has forgotten or has never known. Something that had always been part of Dutch culture, no matter how divided it was. I am talking about The Passion.
The Passion is a musical play that tells the paasverhaal (Easter tale) in a new way, revolutionary one might even say. Dutch actors play Jesus and his twelve disciples and the other important roles in the story. This year, the third Passion was held in the major northern city of the Netherlands, Groningen. The big stage was at the Vismarkt, a square in the heart of town. The crucifixion was done there – but no worries, no Dutch actor was actually nailed to a cross.
Instead, the modern version of Pontius Pilatus explained what such a crucifixion would encompass: 18 centimeter (about 7 inches) long nails would be hammered through wrists and ankles, and the victim would die of suffocation as hanging down from your wrists does not allow normal breathing anymore.
While the thousands of people on the Vismarkt were attending the event, a 6 meter (about 20 feet) long white, neon cross was carried from the soccer stadium of FC Groningen all the way to the square. In that procession, many hundreds more had joined.
The climax of the story occurred when the Dutch Jesus was shown before the crowd and Pilatus gives the audience the choice to either keep him or a prisoner alive. All shouted, just like it allegedly happened, “kruisig hem!!!” (crucify him!!!). He was then taken away, and “stood up” again in the middle of the crowd. A final song ended the spectacular show.
This new look on the story of Easter may really have the intended effect. Even if it does not draw people closer to becoming Christian, it definitely reiterates what it is all about. Even if the Netherlands is not only Christian anymore, but is a mix of many different religions, this event fits well. It connects people. They walk together and just do something together, leaving aside the spiritual meaning of the story. And that is just wonderful.
The United States apparently also has interest in The Passion. Producer Michael Davis bought the concept and wants to realize it in 2015. Let’s see how the Americans will treat it!
Watch the entire Passion 2014 here.
What do you think? Is it a good idea to revolutionize the story like this? Or does it go a step too far?