Interesting Slate article taking us into the subculture of community church-produced Passion Plays. Scholar Patton Dodd reports on a magical mystery-play tour he took during the Easter holidays.
Many are tiny church pageants with casts of 12 disciples, a Jesus of Nazareth, and perhaps a couple of Roman centurions, all wearing bed sheets with nylon ropes tied around their waists. Others, such as the musical Tetelestai in Columbus, Ohio, and the Topeka Passion Play in Kansas, are semiprofessional events that hosting churches have perfected over the course of multiyear runs. But the most well-attended are Bible spectaculars that would make Cecil B. DeMille swoon, featuring immense casts and crews who pull off gritty depictions of first-century capital punishment and Vegas-y musical numbers.