Andreas Richter, 32 years old, is a psychologist by day. Starting in 2010, he will direct a cast consisting of 1,000 actors to portray Jesus Christ. He will play opposite a flight attendant and a public official, who will be playing Judas.

This isn’t amateur theatre. Richter and his castmates will go through rigorous rehearsals and training, not in order to be famous, but to continue the 375-year-old tradition of their home. Nearly half of Oberammergau puts on a Passion Play every 10 years. It depicts Christ’s last weeks, his death, and his resurrection. Since 1633, they have been doing it.

How did it all begin? Oberammergau was hit by the plague in 1632. It killed 84 people that year. There was no way to know about the spread of the plague, nor did anyone know anything about rats and fleas. However, the general theory was that God decided to punish his people through pestilence. The next step was to appeal to God.

Oberammergau’s leaders vowed to perform a Passion Play every ten years. It’s historical record that no Oberammergau citizen has ever been plagued since then.

Passion Plays were quite common in Bavaria at the time. Oberammergau has kept the tradition alive. The Passion Play is performed on a huge scale in Oberammergau. With a theater seating 4,700, over 1,000 actors can perform simultaneously. Approximately 2,500 Oberammergau citizens will be involved in some way. This unique, massive event happens only once every ten years. It’s no wonder that tickets go quickly.

It is amazing to see the dedication displayed by actors. Both men and ladies grow their hair out before the play. Eva-Maria Reiser is the flight attendant who plays Mary Magdalene and she’s taking a year off without any pay to perform her role.

The play is only open to Oberammergau residents who have lived there at least 20 years. Both the director as well as the composer can trace their roots back to 1633 when their ancestors made that original vow. Talk about a family legacy.

Visit the Oberammergau Passion plays website for more information. Tickets will not be available until 2020.