Accepted paper:

Creating Jerusalem by means of performance: some reflections on Polish Passion Plays


Kamila Baraniecka-Olszewska (Polish Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

During Passion play the audience is transferred to the liminal space of ancient Jerusalem - the town created not only on stage, but also in experience of performance participants. In the paper I would like to examine this creative power of performance.

Paper long abstract:

Action of Polish Passion Plays presenting the last moments of Christ's life takes place in Jerusalem erected on a stage. However, during the performance the town is created not only by stage decorations and by the knowledge about the presented history which, as the Bible says, happened in Jerusalem, but also by the attitude of the audience whose members feel as if they actually were in Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Participation in the performance transfers them to the liminal space in which the rules of the subjunctive mood (to use Victor Turner categories) play the main role. Potentiality ascribed to liminality itself as well as to the subjunctive mood allows the faithful to experience the Passion of Christ as if they were witnesses of real events, of the history fundamental to Christianity. Participation in Passion Plays and 'presence' in the liminal space of Jerusalem becomes a basis of creating religious identity of members of the Passion Plays' audience. And it is a special character of the performance, its form, that allows the audience a very special experience of the sacred place which in fact exists only in this experience.

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Performing creativity and creating performances: dialogues and tensions on experiencing culture and making places