The Oberufer Shepherds’ Play
Sometime in the 16th or early 17th century, a group of German farmers from an area around Lake Constance migrated to the little island of Oberufer on the Danube, near Pressburg, close to the frontiers of Austria and Hungary. They took with them a cycle of religious plays, which were handed down by oral tradition through the generations.
For centuries, peasants preserved these plays – both the text itself and the tradition of acting – in their unaltered and original form. It was Karl Julius Schroer, a professor who studied German folklore of the region, who discovered these plays in Oberufer. Dr. Schroer was a teacher and friend of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education.
During the 1850’s and 60’s Schroer lived in Pressburg and learned that these plays were performed by the “Haid Bauern” who had immigrated to Oberufer centuries before. He saw the plays several times and was very enthusiastic about them; transcribing the dialogue from the farmers who were the performers. It was Shroer’s intention to preserve this spiritual inheritance from ancient times. The Oberufer plays are now performed each year in many languages in Waldorf schools all over the world.
The roots of the Oberufer plays are lost in medieval times, but they have evolved to incorporate a unique mix of broad peasant humour and deep reverence in their celebration of the birth of Jesus. The shepherds’ play sets a beautiful mood for the Christmas festival.
The Oberufer Shepherds’ Play will be performed by the Cambridge Steiner School in St Edward’s Church, Cambridge, on Saturday, December 15th 2012, at 5.00 pm. All are welcome.