The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Kyle Smylie The Drumheller Mail

The Cana­dian Bad­lands Pas­sion Play opens the 2016 sea­son to rave re­views, a new script, and boosted at­ten­dance.

The Cana­dian Bad­lands Pas­sion Play rose again for an­other open­ing week­end on Fri­day, beat­ing at­ten­dance num­bers of the last two years thanks to a re­vised script and co­op­er­a­tive weather.

The new script, an adap­ta­tion of the Gospel of Luke ti­tled “Face to Face” and writ­ten by Al­berta play­wright Bar­ret Hile­man, is caus­ing quite a buzz around the Pas­sion Play’s 23rd sea­son says ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Vance Neu­dorf .

“Ev­ery­thing is new this year,” Neu­dorf. “If you haven’t been for a few years, (the Gospel of) John was a very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence than what you’ll get this year – mu­sic-wise, how it looks on­stage, the cos­tum­ing and move­ment – in al­most ev­ery way the play is dif­fer­ent. It’s giv­ing peo­ple a fair bit to chat about.”

It’s strange to think that a 2,000 year old story could be reimag­ined in a dif­fer­ent light that would cause a stir amongst the most Bible-savvy the­atre go­ers, but Neu­dorf said the script doesn’t wa­ver far from scrip­ture.

“You would find ev­ery­thing that’s in the play in the Book of Luke. Ev­ery sin­gle part is there, the en­tire story, it’s just the way we ar­range it and put it to­gether in or­der to make it work on stage. There’s peo­ple of course who want it to be more true to the Bible and to use ex­act words, but for the most part the ones that know the story are com­ing back and say­ing we are stay­ing true to the story,” said Neu­dorf.

“If you sit down and read the gospels it will take con­sid­er­ably longer than the play’s two-and-a-half hour run­time. We are adapt­ing it in dif­fer­ent ways and for­mats to make it come across quite dif­fer­ent on stage.”

The mu­sic in this year’s per­for­mance is strik­ing and on point, pro­vided through a sur­round speaker sys­tem and com­posed by Al­berta com­poser Luke Ert­man. The play is di­rected by Brian Jensen, who played the role of the apos­tle John for the pre­vi­ous five sea­sons.

The Pas­sion Play runs from July 8 un­til July 24 on week­ends.


The Cana­dian Bad­lands Pas­sion Play opened this week­end to in­creased at­ten­dance num­bers, due in part to a re­vised script. The out­door per­for­mance runs on week­ends un­til July 24.

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