No flash mob can match its impact, no computer game can outdo its intensity and no history book can deliver its raw emotional power. The Passion tells the harrowing story of the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus and you can experience it in all its glory in Adeje on Good Friday, 22 April from noon.
It’s a piece of street theatre that will be played out in several towns across Tenerife but the tight palm tree shaded Calle Grande makes the perfect setting where over 10,000 people line the street as the story unfolds over two emotion packed hours. The preparation for The Passion involves a large part of the local population. Costumes and props are worked on all year and a cast of hundreds, including many children, spend hours rehearsing their parts. Even the animals have a role to play, with horses and cattle needed to set the scene.
Calle Grande becomes a living stage and as the church bells signal noon, trumpets herald the arrival of a Roman legion with centurions mounted on horses and others braving their sandals as they march in their wake. The emperor and his wife look regal and arrogant as they follow, carried on their thrones. All this happens at the top end of the street and there will be new vantage points this year as the revamped church plaza has finally opened.
Modern technology ensures that the crowds get to see and hear as the story develops at key stage areas en route. The Last Supper opens the show, the disciples seated around a large table are shocked to hear that one of them will betray Jesus. Head microphones relay the conversation to speakers placed along the route and film cameras capture everything for local television and a giant screen at the bottom end of the street. Powerful and moving it may be but it’s a well worn event for some of the older locals who take the relaxed option of watching from one of the bars that line the route.
Lamp posts, benches and balconies are much sought after for the best views as the epic moves on to the garden of Gethsemane where Judas reveals his true colours. Jesus is the only professional actor, all the other parts are played by well rehearsed locals. If that conjures up thoughts of village hall amateur dramatics, you will be surprised at the sheer scale of The Passion and its graphic realism. Once Jesus is sentenced in the court room, whipped and forced to carry the cross down to his crucifixion, the wounds and the blood clearly shock some of the onlookers.
The final scene is met with a hushed reverence as the cross is hauled up and Jesus nailed to it, only keen eyesight or a zoom lens will reveal the small gripping points the actor has to hold on to. This is not just a performance for the deeply religious, it’s a moving story that will make your senses tingle whatever your beliefs. As Jesus looks down and forgives those that have killed him there are many wiping away tears in the crowd. For the true meaning of Easter, an insight into local religious culture, or a superbly played out piece of theatre, this is one of the must-see events on the Tenerife calendar.