Passion Play’s Success
a Group Effort
By Aranda Adams,
The Oak Valley Productions Passion Play is still going strong after 19 years. Through 100+ performances, cast changes, and usually intense July heat, the play depicting the last days of Jesus Christ has garnered a wide and loyal audience. Many come back year after year while some only experience it once.
The dedication of the actors, crew, musicians, board members, and concession workers cannot be overlooked. It is thanks to them and the support of the audiences that flock to La Riviere every summer that this play has endured as long as it has.
As the play wrapped up its opening day on a hot, sunny Saturday, it was clear no heat wave would keep the players and workers from doing their jobs. All were in top form, from the cooks serving refreshments to the trailer drivers transporting patrons from the parking lot to the theatre. The actors in particular had their work cut out for them, performing in such heavy looking robes. Coming from all over Southern Manitoba, including some actors from Winnipeg, Killarney, and Lorette, the cast puts forth dedicated performances, blending in some humour with the scripture.
Successful outdoor theatres are a genuine rarity in rural areas and the production and maintenance staffs must be commended for their work in making Oak Valley look beautiful every year. The outdoor experience is part of what makes the Passion Play so unique, as the production is not limited merely to the size of the stage. The crucifixion of Christ and the precession to the tomb are played slowly and with purpose as the actors march across the grass and up the hills of the surrounding woods.
The site's natural hiking trails also allow patrons to explore the beautiful landscape between acts and after the play.
As the play heads towards its 20th season next year, one can only hope that the dedication of the audience and Oak Valley Productions will not wane, allowing visitors and younger generations to share in the unique experience of viewing the play. The arts can only last, so long as they are supported by a loyal base of fans and workers.