Adeje In Awe Of The Passion

Roman soldiers shuffled their boots, goats bells jangled, and an air of expectancy hung over Calle Grande in Adeje. It was Good Friday in Tenerife and around 20,000 people had flocked to see the annual performance of The Passion with a cast of hundreds and an eye for detail that transformed the main street into a highly charged canvas for this colourful masterpiece.

I go along most years to experience the raw emotion of the story of Christ’s crucifixion, I have no strong religious beliefs but appreciate the significance it holds and as a piece of street theatre it is hard to beat. Just after the church bells struck noon the procession of soldiers, horses, religious leaders of biblical times, and assorted livestock turned into Calle Grande where people had staked out their favourite viewing positions since early morning. Café and restaurant tables spread onto the pavements while artisans, traders, and townsfolk created the feel of bustling streets. The detail always catches my eye, post boxes and rubbish bins covered in sacking so they don’t shatter the illusion, even the film crews relaying the event to television audiences wore traditional dress.

The story unfolds via a series of stages as the amateur actors (only Jesus is played by a professional) perform key scenes with their words and actions broadcast over giant speakers and screens en route. It seemed to be more stretched out this year and didn’t flow quite as easily, The Last Supper took place as always down at the smaller plaza but afterwards the progression of story and action went back and forth a little and it seemed at times to lose some continuity. The betrayal, arrest, and trial of Jesus hopped between the court and the emperor’s palace and the Garden of Gethsemane didn’t feature this time. Those are just small quibbles, on the plus side they added extra big screens including one at the top of Calle Grande that was a welcome addition, and there were more songs and even some dancing.

It’s always a squeeze to follow the action but past visits had taught me some handy vantage spots and a quick detour via a couple of side streets helped me to get around the jams. Calle Grande is a perfect setting for spectators but the armour clad soldiers on the sunny side of the street must have been sweltering in their uniforms. The shovel patrol were doing brisk business clearing up the leftovers from the horses while police and stewards managed to stop young children from squirming under the ropes. By the time Jesus had been sentenced, whipped, and made to carry his cross everyone was funneling up to Plaza de España for his crucifixion. The stone steps on the church side were packed and hundreds swelled into the plaza as guards forced Jesus onto the raised stage with the Barranco del Infierno as a magnificent backdrop.

Disciples and supporters were held back by a row of Roman soldiers and behind them more modern security held the back the main tide. There were not many dry eyes as Jesus was nailed to the cross and then hoisted into position with his cries of forgiveness to his punishers followed by his wrapping in cloths before his body was carried away. The whole performance had taken two hours but the work put into costumes and rehearsals had started as soon as last years spectacle had finished. Adeje certainly knows how to put on a performance.

Sandra Riggs
April 4th, 2015 7:30 am

this was beautifully written, presented the photographs perfectly. Well done Colin.

April 6th, 2015 3:51 am

Thank you for those kind words – nice to know I’m reaching people.