The American Passion Play, presented by the Scottish Rite Valley of Bloomington, Illinois, has been a tradition since its original production in 1923. In the fall of 1923, during the Scottish Rite’s fall reunion at the Consistory (as the temple building built in 1922 was also known), Delmar D. Darrah staged the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ as an epilogue to an 18th degree presentation, the Knight of the Rose Croix.
The Play is largely considered a ritual and attendance of the play often fulfills a religious pilgrimage. Roles in the Play are passed down from one cast member to another. Many participants began in the Play as children in crowd scenes, later became members of the mob or temple guards, and progressed to either the role of a Roman guard or a disciple. Roles are passed along in an oral tradition, as there are no formal auditions.
The American Passion Play collection contains a historical booklet accompanying exhibits, programs, brochures, souvenir programs, anniversary souvenir programs, articles, oral histories, and miscellaneous items such as advertising cards and rehearsal schedules. The collection consists of one box, which is divided in to thirteen folders.