Experiencing the Passion Through Sound

by James Barrows

This past weekend, Men of the Fiat, with the help of SOUL, hosted a “Binaural Passion Play”, the first of its kind at JPCatholic. Proposed by Men of the Fiat member Patrick Lynch, the household decided it was a perfect event for the lenten season.

Derek Knoeferl, member of the household, said, “The experience is about putting yourself into the moment of Christ’s Passion, beginning with his betrayal in the garden up to his death on the cross.” The audience is blindfolded before they enter, and the room in which the experience takes place is lighted in a very specific way. Derek said, “This makes the audience rely mostly on audio, putting them in the experience as we reenact the events of the Gospel.” Cassidy Van Vooren, who attended the event, added, “At first some people were scared because they were being blindfolded and taken into a room…I was excited to be blindfolded…I’m a big fan of radio theater and audio dramas so this reminded me of that.”

Magely Martinez played an extra voice for the live experience. She said of the sound-only experience, “It was amazing to see how these guys wanted to show us the sound part of the passion. Everyone always forgets that sound is important…I’m glad I was able to help even if I did a small role!” Meg VonFeldt, who attended the event, added, “It was a completely immersive experience. You just sat there listening to what happened and you couldn’t do anything. It was humbling. Sitting in the dark, listening, I was really able to imagine what it all looked like. I wish it was longer.”
The household was pleased with the turnout and the reaction from students who attended. Derek said, “The turnout was great- about thirty students showed up. There were many people that commented positively on the experience.” Anton Weidner, another member of the Men of the Fiat, added, “It was amazing to see the state of mind people were in after the experience.”
Students were particularly impressed with the realness of it all and how it made them feel as if they were at the passion of Christ. The impact of Moises Mora’s performance of Jesus was mentioned a few times. Ofelia Chavez said, “Moises did an absolute amazing job playing Jesus. He literally made me feel the physical pain Jesus would’ve went through. And it literally felt like I went back in time and was there when [Jesus] was being condemned.” Cassidy, thoroughly impressed with the experience, added, “You could hear the characters walking about. You could hear the shouts of the crowd amongst you. You could hear the chains being dragged. You could hear Jesus falling on the floor next to you…you could hear Pilate speaking. You could hear Caiaphas shouting blasphemy. It was so great…Moises did a fantastic job as Jesus.”
Men of the Fiat hope to host the lenten event in years to come, and hope that attendance will grow for more students to be impacted by it. Anton said, “The passion is a powerful story in any medium, but when it is done in a way where the imagination can make it as powerful as the movie it can have a whole new affect.” Cassidy concluded, “I thought it was really well done…a powerful experience. Some people cried…They should do it again because I loved it so much.”