Monday, April 25, 2011

The New Jerusalem

Pictured above, is one of the seven gates to New Jerusalem.

All of them constructed out of stone.
As are the walls that connect them.
Looks like a city in the Holy Land, doesn’t it?
In fact, Nova Jerusalem (as it's rendered in Portuguese), is the world’s largest open-air theater.

It consists of an area of over 100,000 square meters, surrounded by 3,500 meters of walls and 70 towers, all constructed to duplicate the walls and towers of Jerusalem at the time Christ was crucified. 
It’s a bit smaller in scale, only about one-third of the size of the original, but it’s still pretty impressive.

The theatre stands  some 180 km due west of Recife, the capital of the Brazilian State of Pernambuco.
And Recife, my friends, is about 1,900 km to the North of Rio de Janeiro, which really puts this New Jerusalem off the beaten track.

But each year, during Holy Week, thousands of people gather there to witness Brazil’s most famous Passion play.

And each night, beginning at six pm, about 8,000 spectators spend two hours walking a four kilometer path within the walls.

The path takes them past nine permanent stages.

 At each stage, they witness 60 key actors, and as many as 500 extras, act out the key incidents in the last week of the life of Jesus.

Including his crucifixion...

...and resurrection.

It's all presented with digital sound and spectacular lighting effects.
And some of Brazil's most famous actors have roles

If you’ve been to Greece for Easter, and also visited Seville during the Semana Santa, you might consider making this the next one on your list.

Leighton - Monday 


  1. Leighton--

    Movies and TV are fine, but nothing matches the gut reaction to live theater; something about it goes right back to storytelling in a cave lit by firelight. Every good performance is an esthetic conspiracy between the performers and the audience, and that experience can't be matched by watching a screen.

    I also gotta love the deranged level of commitment involved in building a set on that scale, in a location that remote, to use one week a year.

    Fun post. Thank you.


  2. Leighton,

    You keep making my list of things to do in Brazil longer and longer!


  3. Wow!
    You learn something new every day!

  4. Steve, Thanks for the kudos.
    Lenny, I couldn't agree more about theater. "Topsy-Turvy", in case you didn't know it, recently got released as a DVD. I love that movie. Eide doesn't, but she indulges me.
    Jeff, Maybe, some year, we could do it together. It's really something to see.
    Arnie, I'm happy you thought it worth learning.
    Stan, Why there? No symbolic or religious significance. Nope, just the usual reason such things happen: a booster. He was a local luminary with a dream, political connections and a lot of money. And they venerate him there for putting their little, out-of-the-way town on the map.

  5. Leighton, re: Topsy-Turvy, we waited years for the DVD, just got it last week. It is as good as or better than ever. Lucky for me David loves it, too. And I forgot--that blond tenor is Lucius Virenus from "Rome!". I forgot: he could sing!