The RTL television channel brought “The Passion” to downtown Essen. A procession moved from Rüttenscheid to Burgplatz on Wednesday evening.
They found their way to God in different ways. Their common objective this Wednesday evening is the Rüttenscheid market. Around 100 people have applied to carry the cross for RTL Passion and wish to carry the 250 kilogram cross on Essen’s Burgplatz, where what is probably the biggest television religious event begins on a huge stage in the evening, Essen – and probably the German television nation – have known so far.
“The Passion” in Essen: Thomas Gottschalk is the narrator
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The Passion in Essen is a 14 meter high stage build, tons of technology, TV celebrities from Thomas Gottschalk to Mark Keller to Henning Baum and the not-so-small challenge of presenting the Passion of Jesus Christ as a live television show for an audience of millions put.
“The Passion” in Essen: many people traveled from afar
Those who stand in the market place of Rüttenscheid to carry the cross have not necessarily come because they want to be on television, but because they actually believe that a signal will sound that evening. Love your neighbor as yourself – “the message is so important that it must be conveyed more strongly again”, says Caterina Longo de Velbert.
And Veronika Reiners from Duisburg also hopes to make people believe “that Easter is about more than sweets and presents”. So they are ready two hours before the live broadcast, can be divided into groups – A, B and C – and give the final instructions: no mobile phones on the course, no selfies, no salute to the camera, which they use during the three and a half kilometer walk to town.
You don’t have to say that to people like Dietmar Schindowski from Essen. He is serious about passion. “Carrying the cross means something very special to me, it is central to my faith.” And Janina Andres also wants to say thank you tonight that God was there when she needed him most, her husband was in a coma, the doctors were already out of hope and then “that cloud of light was there”. She stands over the hospital bed and can’t be scared. The next morning, her husband is already sitting up in bed again. “We have found faith,” says the Bottroperin.
Not everyone has such a moment of telegenic enlightenment here. Some just want to give a sign of hope – also against war, for the Christian community. And participants from other religions are also present during this evening.
Kettwiger Strasse: Those present are on the lookout for Alexander Klaws in the afternoon
In the afternoon, they are already looking for the Messiah in the person of musical star Alexander Klaws on Kettwiger Straße. One claims to have heard him sing on the balcony of the VHS. “It could be good,” says Tim Krugmann. The man from Bochum lived for a few years in the Netherlands, where “Passion” has been a successful format for years, he knows the shows. The combination of modern music, thousands of years of history and the special nature of the respective place is simply appealing. In the end, Jesus even appeared on the roof of the Ajax Amsterdam stadium, says Krugmann, while the line in front of the entrance has already reached the Grillo Theater.
Some Passions guests hope to quickly catch a glimpse of actors like Henning Baum or Martin Semmelrogge looking through the site’s fences, maybe even a selfie. Celina, Lorena and Janina, who came from Sauerland and even Garmisch-Partenkirchen, want to see the singer Ella Endlich, who performs Maria on Wednesday evening. While RTL Passion for Hans-Peter Blecken is a taste of the Passion Play in Oberammergau, which he will attend this summer.
“The Passion”: Support program for the Church in the city center
There is also a hint of Kirchentag that evening on the city of Essen which is above all a commercial city. But along the Kettwiger shopping street there are not only Peek & Cloppenburg or Primark, but also the market church and the cathedral. The two churches are particularly present on this day. At the Church of the Resurrection, street artist Mika Springwald sprays cross graffiti live. And they wrote the words Jesus, Cross, Love, Fear in the cityscape in big colorful letters.
Everything is XL on this “Passion” day. The stage, the technical effort, the expectation: RTL hopes for an audience boost, the church for a better outside perception. They are two unequal partners who have found each other, but they treat each other with openness. Essen church district superintendent Marion Greve is also looking forward to the televised event. The Passion offers the opportunity to “find a new way to tell our old story”.
RTL mainly focuses on pop music. The “passion” then begins on Burgplatz with, among other things, Andreas Bourani’s World Cup anthem “Here’s to us”. Public viewing atmosphere before the crucifixion. And Thomas Gottschalk finds references between the place and the biblical story: “The resurrection from the fragments of history is not new for people in the pot.” Zollverein, Limbecker Platz and the Grillo Theater then also take the stage on prepared film extracts. And on Rüttenscheider Straße, bearers must clearly shoulder the six by three meter illuminated cross to the finish. They complete the journey that evening without a break – although “Passion” also has its commercial breaks on RTL.
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