Paris Passion play celebrates 74 neighbourly years

8th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 8 (AFP) - Residents of a Paris district are preparing for their annual Easter Passion play that nothing, even war, has managed to halt for the past seven decades.

PARIS, March 8 (AFP) - Residents of a Paris district are preparing for their annual Easter Passion play that nothing, even war, has managed to halt for the past seven decades.

"Everyone in the district is helping out. The actors are all volunteers," said director Didier Braun, whose family has worked on the show for three generations since the first performance in 1932.

Sixty people, including 15 children, are taking part this year in "The Menilmontant Passion" which will open on Friday, recounting the trial of Jesus Christ, his crucifixion and death in the tradition of the medieval mystery plays.

None of the 30 actors who appear on the stage are professionals, and they all live in the working-class district of Menilmontant in the 20th arrondissement.

"We have Jews, and Muslims as well as Christians among the actors. We don't ask for any baptism certificate here," Braun said.

"We've been asked to go and play in Barcelona and Avignon, but we've always performed here as people have their jobs to go to," he added.

Through thick and thin, the show has gone on. Until World War Two, the performance would last seven hours, with two acts and an interlude.

Today the play has been shortened to two hours.

The bloodiest scenes of the crucifixion have been omitted, unlike in Mel Gibson's gruesome film "The Passion Of The Christ".

"We are more interested in the message then in shocking images," Braun added. The script has been reworked many times over the years. In the old days before photocopiers, texts would be carefully kept and reused time and time again. Now they are circulated on the Internet.

This year the residents will mark the 600th performance, which has never been halted in its history, even by the accidental death last year of Braun's brother, who was playing Jesus.

"The Menilmontant Passion" will open on Friday, March 11 in the Menilmontant Theatre and run until April 10.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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