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Culture

Passion play director selects actors for roles of Jesus, Mary, Judas

A psychologist and a press spokesman will take up the role of Jesus in the next Oberammergau Passion play, the play's director announced. The event is held once every 10 years and will take place in 2010.

Oberammergau Passion Play director Christian Stueckl and the actors who will play Jesus

The director presents his Jesuses

Frederik Mayet, 29, and Andreas Richter, 32, were selected from 1,800 villagers who applied to take part in the dramatic representation of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection.

The leading roles of Jesus, Mary and Judas are each filled by two actors for the five-month duration of the epic drama, which begins on May 15, 2010.

Mayet is director Christian Stueckl's spokesman and Richter is a psychologist. Both are amateur actors and appearing in the main role for the first time.

No wigs are used in the play and participants have been letting their hair and beards grow since Feb. 25 when a so-called hair decree came into force.

Storied tradition

Jesus hoisted on the cross

Jesus is a demanding role for the actors

The town's Passion play has been performed every decade since 1634 by inhabitants of Oberammergau, a village in the southern German state of Bavaria.

Its origin dates back to the Thirty Years War when the village was decimated by the bubonic plague. Survivors promised they would stage the play as a gesture of thanks to God for sparing their lives.

The entire cast consists of people who live permanently in Oberammergau, which has a population of 5,000. They must be amateurs and have high moral and ethical principles.

Dream team

The two actors wh are set to play Mary in the Passion Play

Two Marys are needed as well

Others chosen for the leading roles were Martin Norz, a 44-year-old who played Jesus in 1990 and 2000 and who will portray Judas next year.

Andrea Hecht and Ursula Burkhart, both 47, were selected to play Maria, a role they have both appeared in before.

"It's my dream team," said Stueckl after the main cast was announced.

The Oberammergau Passion play is performed in German and runs for five-and-a-half hours, with a three-hour break. Rehearsals are scheduled to begin in October.

More than 500,000 visitors, many from abroad, are expected to descend on the Alpine village for the more than 100 performances, paying between 49 euros and 165 euros ($64 and $215) for tickets.

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