Alina Goncharova's story with the Manitoba Passion Play is a testament to the transformative power of theatre and the profound impact faith can have on everyday life. Unlike many who dedicate years to honing their craft, Alina's journey began as a captivated audience member, utterly enthralled by the play's raw emotion and biblical accuracy. This initial spark ignited a desire to be a part of something bigger, even if it meant simply directing lost theatregoers to the parking lot. However, destiny, it seems, had a different role in mind for Alina.  

Her initial audition for the Passion Play was filled with humility. With no prior acting experience beyond a childhood summer camp play, Alina simply hoped to land a spot amongst the anonymous crowd. Yet, fate had a surprise in store. During the auditions, she found herself entrusted with the monumental role of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The weight of this unexpected honour settled upon her – it wasn't about self-aggrandizement on stage, but about embodying Mary's character with the utmost respect and emotional depth. 

Alina's portrayal transcended the mere recitation of lines. Under the guidance of play director, Belita Sanders she embarked on a journey to understand Mary's inner world. They explored Mary's emotional landscape, delving into her thoughts and motivations at each pivotal moment in the narrative. This dedication wasn't confined to the stage; it seeped into Alina's daily life. Reading the Bible became a more profound experience as she connected with Mary's journey, contemplating how the character's choices might influence her own actions. 

Alina's transformation isn't an isolated case. The Manitoba Passion Play, nestled in the scenic Pembina Valley, near La Riviere, is renowned for its ability to touch the hearts and souls of its viewers. Held within the picturesque Oak Valley Outdoor Theatre, the production boasts a unique blend of professionalism and passionate volunteerism. Live actors, many local to the region, breathe life into the biblical narrative, while a dedicated crew ensures a seamless performance under the open sky. 

a man in a robe speaks from the side of a hill with others gathered around him

The play's authenticity extends beyond the actors. Real animals, like donkeys and sheep, become integral parts of the production, further immersing the audience in the historical setting. The meticulous attention to detail extends to the costumes and props, ensuring a visually captivating experience that transports viewers back in time. 

However, the true magic lies in the emotional connection fostered by the play. The raw portrayal of Jesus' final days resonates deeply with the audience. Witnessing the anguish and unwavering love of Mary, the betrayal of Judas, and the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus himself leaves an indelible mark. It's a testament to the power of storytelling, reminding viewers of the timeless themes of faith, forgiveness, and the enduring strength of the human spirit. 

The impact of the Passion Play extends beyond the emotional. The production serves as a vital hub for the local community. Volunteers, many from the surrounding towns, dedicate their time and talents to bringing the story to life. This collective effort fosters a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose, strengthening the social fabric of the region. 

For Alina, the experience has been life-changing. Stepping outside her comfort zone and embracing the role of Mary has instilled in her a newfound confidence and a deeper connection to her faith. The play has become more than just a production; it's a community, a source of inspiration, and a powerful reminder of the transformative power of storytelling. 


A Must-See Event: The Manitoba Passion Play 

Experience the Passion Play firsthand. The play takes place over two weekends, with performances scheduled for July 5th, 6th, and 7th, followed by July 12th, 13th, and 14th. All performances begin at 7:30 PM, offering ample time to settle in and soak in the picturesque setting of the Oak Valley Outdoor Theatre. 

Planning Your Visit 

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience, here are some helpful tips for attending the La Riviere Passion Play: 

  • Dress for the weather: The Pembina Valley evenings can get surprisingly chilly, especially as the performance progresses. Pack layers and consider bringing a light blanket for added comfort. 

  • Embrace the outdoors: The Oak Valley Outdoor Theatre is an open-air venue, so be prepared to experience nature firsthand. Pack mosquito repellent and sunscreen to ensure a pleasant evening. 

  • Bring essentials: Don't forget to bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating. Refreshments and snacks are available for purchase on-site, but bringing your own water bottle is a good idea. 

  • Embrace the community: The Manitoba Passion Play thrives on a spirit of community and volunteerism. Arrive early to soak up the pre-show atmosphere, mingle with the friendly volunteers, and perhaps even explore the on-site meditation trail, offering a moment of reflection before the powerful performance unfolds. 

Embrace the Disconnect 

While technology undeniably plays a significant role in our lives, the Passion Play offers a refreshing escape. The lack of cell service at the venue can be initially jarring for some, but it ultimately fosters a sense of connection with the present moment. It encourages the audience to fully immerse themselves in the play, free from distractions and the constant ping of notifications. This digital detox allows for a deeper appreciation of the performance and the power of shared storytelling. 

More Than a Performance 

The Manitoba Passion Play is more than just a theatrical production; it's a cultural cornerstone of the Pembina Valley. It attracts visitors from neighbouring towns and provinces, generating tourism revenue that benefits the local community. The play also serves as a powerful tool for education, offering a captivating and accessible way to learn about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Witnessing the play firsthand can spark important conversations about faith, history, and the human condition. 

A Legacy of Faith and Community 

The Manitoba Passion Play boasts a rich history, with a dedicated team carrying on a tradition that stretches back decades. This commitment to preserving the play ensures that future generations can experience its powerful message and the unique sense of community it fosters. 

Alina Goncharova's story serves as a potent reminder that the Passion Play is an experience unlike any other. It's a testament to the transformative power of theatre, the strength of faith, and the enduring spirit of community. Whether you're a seasoned theatregoer or simply seeking a meaningful and inspiring experience, the Manitoba Passion Play promises to leave a lasting impression. So, gather your loved ones, pack a picnic basket, and prepare to be transported by this captivating portrayal of one of history's most significant stories. 

ma man on a cross. a roman soldier holds up a soaked cloth from a stick