The Oberammagau Passion Play and the Chalet School

It’s no secret that we support the works of Elinor M. Brent-Dyer on this blog (and if it is, then welcome! stay! let us talk about romantic omelettes and improbable speedboat shenanigans!), and the Chalet School books in particular. One of the earlier titles in this sprawling series, The Chalet School And Jo, is of interest to us today. It sees the girls attend the Passion Play at Oberammagau – a ‘once every decade’ piece of theatre that retells the story of the Passion.

I was reminded of this book this week. I was finishing off a research job at the British Library (hire me! I’m very good!) and as is the way when you’re a big nerd, taking some time afterwards to look through the material on my own behalf. The paper was The Wearside Catholic News (1910) and it was fascinating – though I have to admit, the photos of Archduke Franz Ferdinand were quite startling. But that’s research; sometimes you see people before they become history.

I found some rather brilliant reports of the Oberammagau Passion Play and thought instantly of The Chalet School and Jo. I was particularly enamoured to find mention of some of the characters that Brent-Dyer herself references. Here they are. The Wearside Catholic News was a weekly paper and these are all from July 1910. I hope the photographs are legible!

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3 comments

  1. I went to the Passion Play in 2010, and, not being religious myself, I’d never have thought of going if it hadn’t been for The Chalet School and Jo! I’m so glad I did, because it was a lovely experience, and I also had a look round Oberammergau to find the stream that Elsie Carr fell into after painting her face! I think the Edwardians romanticised it all a bit, with all the stuff about sweet-faced peasants whose lives revolve around trying to get a part in the play because they’re all so devoutly religious 🙂 , but it’s still such a nice thing to do. I know that one of the Chalet clubs is organising a trip there for 2020 – I’m not going again, because I only get limited time off work and there are other places to do, but I love the fact that so many people want to go because of EBD. Sorry, that turned into an essay!

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