Passion Play; Designing & sewing costumes for our Lutheran Church

Posted by on January 28, 2013 at 10:17 pm.

Each year our Lutheran church performs the Passion Play. Have you seen it? It’s a reenactment of the events leading up to the death of Christ in Jerusalem. Last year was the first time my daughter and I saw the show and I was impressed by the performance, the sets and the costuming. I guess I shouldn’t have been, there are some talented folks at the church and I know at least one owns a theater, and another produces plays. Our church offers a few showings over a week period so it gives the church members and guests several times to attend the play.

This year is a first for my daughter and myself. I believe she’ll have a part in the play (non-speaking part — I couldn’t convince her to try out for a speaking role) and I’ll be designing some of the costumes.

The clothing design has me excited, I’ve always enjoyed working behind the scenes; Sketching the design, cutting the material, and transferring my vision into an outfit.  During my twenties, I’ve participated in local fashion shows.  I even had some of my designs featured in boutiques. I stopped when I didn’t want to do it anymore… but recently (as in the past few years) I’ve been thinking about doing something…

Martha and Mary Magdalene (c.1598)painted by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Martha and Mary Magdalene (c.1598) painted by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

 

I’m designing a robe for Mary Magdalene. Her brother, Lazarus and her sister, Martha are also mentioned in the Holy Bible. As a child, I was always fascinated by Mary and read the the small tidbits of information about her at an early age. She obviously was a follower of Christ, and based on some things she did, it led you to believe she was wealthy.

 

He's Risen!

He’s Risen!

I also have the honor of designing Jesus’ Resurrection robe. He was buried in the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had set aside for himself.  Joseph was a wealthy man and was referred to by the Romans as “Nobilis Decurio” which means “Minister of Mines” there a few that speculate that Joseph was a merchant and that Jesus might have accompanied him on some of his journeys by ship.

And while we don’t know that for certain, I’m thinking it’s safe to assume that Jesus body was prepared with fine linens and spices. I’m designing two other robes also. The rest of the costumes are carried over from the past years and others are being rented.

Knowing that the Crucifixion was set during the first century A.D. is helpful. Men and women both wore robes (pants didn’t come until later) the types of robes they wore differed between the sexes. Having knowledge of the characters/time period is important in creating appropriate clothing.

Linen

Linen

 

I already have the designs in my head, the only thing left is to purchase the fabric and start sewing. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do too much until the second week in February and while I know the style of dress that Romans and Jews wore during that period. History along with designs throughout the ages has always fascinated me… I’ll be doing some more reading since I want to add little extras into what I create. I read more than the Holy Bible, there is lots of information available around that time period that can give you a better understanding of many things written  in the Bible. You just have to be willing to do some research.

Tomorrow I meet with the director (who also works in theater) and so I’ll be sure to bounce off some of the ideas I have (and show him a few of my sketches) and of course I’ll listen to his suggestions also. Lent is just around the corner, it is one of my favorite Christian celebrations. I’m thrilled that I’m at a church that actively participates in religious celebrations throughout the year. I was raised Baptist, and besides the obvious celebrations (birth and death/resurrection) that church didn’t recognize most of the Christian celebrations.

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