A Community of Outcasts in the Desert


Here’s a gallery of images that show many sides, not of the characters in Godspell, but of Burning Man. Like Olney’s Godspell, Burning Man is about the formation of a community, intact only briefly but with long-ranging impact on its members. While Burning Man didn’t exist when Godspell was first produced, its cultivation of creativity and free-spiritedness is a good match for the hippie culture with which Godspell is associated. If you’re interested in a scholarly look at spirituality and ritual at Burning Man, check out Lee Gilmore’s book on the subject.

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On Passion Plays

The BBC has an excellent exploration of the history and controversy of passion plays (also called mystery plays) over the centuries.

Passion plays are still being performed all over the world, including in towns with traditions dating back to the 17th century. Here is a 2007 passion play from Manchester, England, using popular music to tell the story.

The legacy of the passion play includes the second act of Godspell and shows from Jesus Christ Superstar to Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, which looks at the lives of passion play actors from different centuries and countries. It also extends beyond theatre. One example came out just a couple of years after Godspell‘s premiere: Jethro Tull’s concept album, “A Passion Play.”