Religious drama of medieval origin dealing with the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Early Passion plays were written in Latin and consisted of Gospel readings alternating with poetic descriptions of the events of Christ's Passion (i.e., his sufferings between the Last Supper and his death). Use of the vernacular for these poetic passages led to the development of independent vernacular plays. By the 16th century many of the plays had been overtaken by secular influences and had become mere popular entertainments. Some survived into the 21st century, most notably the one performed by local villagers every 10 years at Oberammergau, Ger. See also liturgical drama; miracle play; mystery play.
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