Disclaimer: This post is about seeing the Canadian Badlands Passion Play in Drumheller,. A Passion Play is the Biblical story of Jesus Christ, and as such holds significance for many people. I am refer to characters and events in this post within the context of a theatrical performance. This is not an endorsement of any religious or non-religious organisation.
My Birthday Trip to Drumheller
Enter the Canadian Badlands Passion Play
You’ll notice that I wrote most Passion Plays are usually held around Easter. The one in Drumheller is in July. Why? Holding an outdoor Passion Play during Spring involves fickle weather. While weather in July isn’t always perfect, it’s usually pretty close.
When I got my ticket I got a pamphlet with some tips on what to bring. I brought along
- Rain Poncho. Note that umbrellas aren’t allowed because they block the view of people behind you.
- Baseball Hat
- Water bottle
The venue is outside, but it is at an amphitheatre, which is also used for other events in the summer. It’s a cool venue. There is a stage, but the set goes out way beyond this. The seats are wooden benches, but I was pretty surprised at how nice they were. These are not the most comfortable seats ever, but they’re not bad. If you wanted to you could buy seat cushions to sit on.. Tickets here have assigned seating. I’m tall and I often find my knees will cramp up because of a lack of leg room between rows, but that wasn’t an issue here.
This play is set against the ancient geological rocks of the Canadian Badlands. This makes seeing this show a unique experience. Since this is an outdoor show weather changes, like thunder and sudden rain storms, can occur. This could add an interesting element to the show. As mentioned before the weather was beautiful and calm during my performance. While there is a main stage used for a lot of the show, it’s not the only thing to focus on. During several parts the performers would run up from behind the hills. At one point I thought “damn these actors run a lot in this show.” I won’t spoil anything, but the setting definitely helped add a unique impact to the finale.
The People Involved
The scope of this play is pretty huge. There are a few professional actors in the show, but most are volunteers. Some are students who are part of the Canadian Badlands Summer School program. There are over 170 people in the show (including understudies and musicians). There are also many people in behind the scenes as well. A few animals (a couple of horses, and some donkeys) are in the show too. There are also hundreds of donors and volunteers who help to make this show possible. The scope of the Canadian Badlands Passion Play experience is pretty amazing.
What was even weirder was the photo ops with the actors. During intermission actors, playing Roman soldiers, stood outside the main stage. I can’t tell you how many people in the audience went up to take photos standing next to the actors. Same thing happened after the show (lots of people wanted pictures with Jesus). This seemed weird to me because these people are only actors. I’m all for going up to performers after a show and telling them that you enjoyed the experience. Queuing to get a selfie with an actor playing Jesus seems so weird to me. To each his/her own though.
The Canadian Badlands Passion Play begins performances in July. The show runs on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Ticket and show information is here. Ticket prices range from $29 (for youths) up to $64 for adults. The venue is at 605 17 Street in Drumheller, Alberta. Drumheller is a small town, but this venue is a little bit outside of town. As there isn’t public transit here you’ll want to have a vehicle or call a local taxi service to get here. Give yourself plenty of time for parking.
The Canadian Badlands Passion Play provided me with a complimentary ticket. I am very appreciative they were able to offer their support. All opinions in this post are my own.
This isn’t the only place to see great theatre in the Albertan Badlands. Nearby Rosebud, Alberta has a great professional theatre program with shows (in an indoor venue) year round. You can read about my experience in Rosebud.
While I was in Drumheller I stayed at the Heartwood Inn and Spa. This locally run bed and breakfast offers a comfortable luxury stay in Drumheller. While there are spa treatments available here I wasn’t able to make us of any (unfortunately). I can vouch for the delicious waffle breakfast and the owners were lovely. I was provided a complimentary stay with in collaboration with Travel Alberta. All opinions are my own.
Have you been to Drumheller? Would you see the Canadian Badlands Passion Play?