Sunday, July 10, 2011

Passion Play in La Riviere, MB

Yesterday we went to La Riviere, Manitoba (about 2 hours drive from Winnipeg) to see the Passion Play which is the story of the life of Christ, focusing mainly on the last days of his life - his betrayal, death on the cross and his resurrection.  The play is only offered for three days each summer for the last 12 years so I was lucky to have seen it advertised in time to go.  This year it was July 8-10.  It starts at 7:30pm and is supposed to finish at 9:50pm but it was actually 10:20pm when it was done.  All the actors are volunteers from the surrounding communities including Winnipeg.  

I am familiar with the story from growing up in Guyana and going to Sunday school every Sunday.  Easter was an especially important time because this was the story that was told.  Having not gone to a church in years - at least not to pray - I had forgotten just how powerful the story used to be to me.  Last night, seeing Jesus' life enacted by all volunteers was pretty amazing all together. 

We left home about 1:45pm yesterday to take Mom to the airport.  She was heading for Calgary for 2 weeks and then Edmonton for another 2.  We left the city about 2:30pm and arrived at Holiday Mountain Resort about 4:30pm.  We decided that since the drive was a long one, it wouldn't be wise to leave there at 10pm for a 2 hour drive home so we stayed over the night.  It's a quaint but nice facility - updated recently I think. Anyway, we got a special deal through Wagjag for $32 for dinner and the play.  Apparently it's worth about $78 but I don't think I would have paid that much for a buffet dinner (about $61) and a $17 ticket to the play (regular price). Nevertheless, it was quite nice.

If you've never been out that way, the site of the play is quite beautifully set in a valley with a walking trail (about 10 minutes) that goes along the gravel road and another meditation trail that is a bit more windy that we didn't discover until we arrived at the stage area. We walked the first trail and thought we had done the mediation trail but we decided last night that we would go back today to walk the mediation trail.  That was such a wonderful experience that took us almost an hour, but what a very spiritual hour.
Valley of the play

Stage area set in the hills

Sound booth

Angels coming to tell about the birth of Christ

The tomb

Actors on stage
  We had dinner at the resort and arrived at the site of the play put on by Oak Valley Productions.  I don't know if the area around there is Okay Valley but it sure is beautiful.  I have to preface the write-up about the play by saying that in 1990, we were in Austria where the same play is done in a town called  Oberammergau in the Tyrolian Mountains. It's performed once every 10 years since the 1600's and in 1990, I wanted to see it but it was too prohibitive for all 5 of us to see it and it was 7 hours long. I promised myself that I would see the play one day, not realizing until about 3 years ago that it was right here in Manitoba - set in the stunning hills between the prairies.

The play started at 7:35pm and this year, they added a piece about the life of Christ from when he was born and how he apprenticed as a carpenter before going on to minister to the sick and destitute.  I think everyone was mesmerized by the outdoor setting for the theatre and the actors used the surrounding hillside for maximum effect.  The scenery was breathtaking and the props were built so beautifully, that it was easy to imagine that we were back more than 2000 years ago.
Christ on the cross

I planned to take my camera but forgot so I am appending the website that has some great pictures.  The actor that played Jesus last night (Bill Tiessen) is the same as in the pictures on the website and he was pretty convincing in his role. 

The picture gallery shows one picture of Jesus on the cross and it's the real actor being placed there and having to stay in that position for about 15 minutes until the scene is done.  It was pretty amazing all together and even if you are not Christian, the play would have been moving.  I left there feeling like I had witnessed something important and I was reminded about the goodness of people in general and some in specific. 

Growing up in a home where we embraced three religions from our immediate families, I think I was privileged to be able to accept that we are all God's children in different ways.  That was the message I took away.  If you ever get a chance to see such a play or to share in someone else's beliefs, you should do so.  It makes you realize that in trying to find the differences in each other, we are more similar than we would like to admit. 

I'll write about the mediation trail in my next post. Hope you had a great weekend.  I saw some spectacular fields of mustard, corn and wheat and big open and blue skies with puffy and very white clouds that made the world look like it went on forever.

Weed or flower?

Beautiful mustard field

Wonderful puffy prairie clouds!
Have a good start to your week.  Mine is going to be good for sure!


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