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To view related article in Filipino, please click Senakulo.

The Senakulo (from the Spanish cenaculo) is a Lenten play that depicts events from the Old and New Testaments related to the life, sufferings, and death of Christ.

The senakulo is traditionally performed on a proscenium-type stage with painted cloth or paper backdrops that are called telon. It takes at least eight nights - from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday - to present the play. Christ is presented traditionally as meek and masochistic, submitting lamblike to his fate in obedience to authority.


In urban areas, there are modernized versions of the senakulo that run for only one or two hours. They may be presented in different types of venues: on the traditional stage, on the streets, in a chapel, in a large room, or out in the open. Comedy, courtship, and special effects may be incorporated. Furthermore, modern senakulos tend to focus not on Christ’s submissiveness, but on his reason and resolve in courageously standing up for the downtrodden against their oppressors, perhaps suggesting how current problems may be resolved.

Street senakulos is another form of penance where the people are walking with the procession. People near the church wait eagerly to witness the reenactment. Locals act as Roman soldiers with their menacingly painted masks and armors, pounding on doors to search for Jesus. Most anticipated among the episodes are the judgment of Jesus, the Crucifixion and His Seven Last Words. Spectators may range from devotees to merely curious. For some, it is the time to reflect on the life of Jesus, while others take it as a chance to spend time with family and friends.

The routine of the reenactment has not changed, but its presentation is infused with a fresh flavor to reach the modern-world absorbed consciousness of the new generation.




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