Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria

The Erl Passion Play

Applicant: Passionspielverein Erl
Province: Tyrol
Domain: Performing arts
Year of inclusion: 2013

For the past 400 years, the traditional passion play, originating from the Christian Easter Drama, has been taking place at Erl every six years. Despite its international reputation and its many visitors, this traditional Christian play owes its survival particularly to the inhabitants of Erl, as they – rather than professional actors – take on the parts on stage. The 600 actors are recruited one year before the performance. Committee members make the round of the houses asking all residents of Erl whether they wish to undertake an unspecified part in the passion play. People of all ages are involved in the project. Due to the religious background as well as the participants’ wish for continuity, changes in text, music and costumes are only cautiously made as part of the continuous development and updating of the performance.