A first-century village will come to life this weekend to tell the story of Christ this Easter season.
“Over the years, we’ve really been fortunate to grow and develop Capernaum into a really special place,” said Tammy Lane, who created the village on her family’s ranch in Parker County. “That, combined with so many trained actors, makes for an event that’s as authentic as you’ll find anywhere.”
Capernaum Village, which is located just north of Peaster — nine miles north of Weatherford — is an outgrowth of a deep commitment to the Christian faith. Lane doesn’t try to conceal the fact that the Passover Experience in Capernaum Village is an evangelical tool. But, it’s more than that, too.
“It’s something that you wouldn’t get anywhere else,” Lane said.
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At a passion play, you’re in the audience watching actors tell a story, Lane said.
“At this experience, you’re in Capernaum,” she said.
Guests walk through the village and pause at various spots, peering into buildings, even slipping into rooms and becoming part of the action, Lane said.
“It appeals to all the senses,” she said. “There are sights, sounds, smells, they even get to taste things.”
That would be the Seder experience, where Messianic Jews teach about the passover feast.
“You get to taste the elements of the Seder, like the bitter herbs, the unleavened bread,” Lane said. “They teach you what all of it means.”
The teachings are so vital that they’ll stick with most guests, because virtually all of the people with speaking parts in the Passover Experience are professional actors, said Kina Bale-Reed, owner of Cast-O-Matic in Dallas.
“A realistic and genuine village like Capernaum requires actors who fit that same level of authenticity,” Bale-Reed said. “Just as you would do for a film or a TV show, we spent a lot of time in the casting process making sure that each and every actor was prepared to transform themselves into a first century villager.”
That’s a departure from previous events at Capernaum. In years past, volunteers did OK with their characters; but the actors brought in by a casting company are capable of presenting a more realistic performance, Lane said.
“Watch out for the Egyptian soldier,” she said. “He’s a mean one. He’s driving Israeli slaves, but he might decide to come after someone in the audience.”
Beyond evangelism, Lane’s driving idea has been to teach guests what life was like in Biblical times.
Included in this experience is “what the very first Passover was like, what the plagues of the first Passover were like,” Lane said. “Especially the plague of darkness, it’s something you just have to go through. I heard someone during a dress rehearsal say ‘Now I understand what it means to have darkness you can feel.’”
Even with so much Old Testament stuff, Lane promised that guests “will hear the gospel. It teaches what the Passover is, what it means. It’s all about Jesus, because Jesus is the Passover lamb.”
Long a part of the Capernaum experience is a scene in The Upper Room. It’s still Passover, but it’s the last Passover the disciples get to spend with Christ — The Last Supper.