Paul Gröllhesel

(1785 - 1864) Dramatist

Weaver Paul Gröllhesel of Hořice wrote, with the help of a priest, the Passion Play "Suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ" - a mourning play in five scenes and one prelude "Sin of the first people of Paradise" (Das Leiden und Sterben Unseres Herrn Jesu Christi - ein Trauerspiel in 5 Aufzügen und einen Vorspiele...). As motives of this play he used the then very popular book of Capuchin monk P. Martin Cochema "The great life and suffering of Jesus Christ" (Das grosse Leben und Leiden Jesu Christi) and pieces of old Passion plays which had been verbally passed on.

Hořice na Šumavě, Passion Plays in 1912, scene Expulsion from Paradise, photo Josef Seidel , foto: J. Seidel

Paul Gröllhesel brought together a fifteen-member group of fellow-citizens with whom he practised this play, and from 1816 they played it at the time before Easter in the local pubs. The artists played without costumes, only in their own normal clothing, and using very simple properties. As time passed people became interested in the play, artists increased and from the mid 1830\'s all performances were exquisitely staged and costumed. The original text written by Paul Gröllhesel was modified several times, although the Passion play was performed till 1887. Paul Gröllhesel lived to see the establishment of an amateur theatre group directed by Gröllhesel´s son Josef when Paul Gröllhesel died. In 1887 - 1888 Josef Johann Ammann modified Gröllhesel´s text of the Passion play and launched another very successful era of the Passion plays in Hořice na Šumavě.