Alberta actor Aaron Krogman is once again the face of Jesus Christ for the Badlands Passion Play.
Raised in Red Deer, Krogman has a wife and two daughters and has been interested in acting since high school. Krogman admits that he graduated high school with no idea what to do with his life, but was given the idea for his career by his father.
On top of everything else Krogman is grateful for in his career, he is grateful for the support of his family the most because that is what got him started on his current path. Krogman knows that his parents, his wife and children, and his 95 year-old grandmother enjoy coming to the Passion Play when they can.
“My dad said, “why don't you try acting?” Krogman says. “He said that he could imagine me being on a stage and not long after that, he took me to see a play called ‘Godspell’ at the Rosebud Theater in December 2003. There was a student actor in it and his performance was so moving that it made me want to do what he was doing.”
In the summer of 2004, Krogman investigated the Rosebud School of the Arts in Rosebud, Alberta and began attending there that fall. Krogman admits that there were lots of things he wanted to do and things he was excited about, but credits his father as giving him a tangible idea to invest in.
Krogman eventually graduated from the program in 2008 and then began participating in the Passion Play in 2011. This year is only Krogman’s fifth time playing Jesus after participating for seven years and this season is his first one back after taking a hiatus. When the Passion Play ended its season in 2015, Krogman and his wife moved to Vancouver so he could pursue a Master’s degree at Regent College.
“It's a perfect degree for the kind of work I do cause it's kind of a, the intersection between faith and art,” Krogman says. “A lot of the time, Rosebud is faith based and that's my background as well. I studied what faith has to offer the artistic process and what thee artistic process has to offer faith. The Passion Play is a really awesome of that and so I’m excited to dive back into it.”
Now that Krogman is back to portraying Jesus in the Badlands Passion Play, he regards doing so as an iconic opportunity. Although Krogman believes that the role of Jesus Christ is iconic and difficult to do justice with, as many people have different experiences with that role, it is an honor to embody it in a way that reaches audiences. Ultimately, Krogman feels that portraying Jesus has taken him on a deep journey.
“I feel like the words are given to me and I don't have to like come up with what to say because the words are already there,” Krogman says. “I just have to kind of commit to the moments that I'm in in the scenes.”
Krogman also feels that the other cast and crew in the Passion Play are all super passionate about being involved. Referring to the play as a ‘wave of interest’ that attracts people, Krogman is truly grateful for the privilege that he feels being in the play is.
“I get to see the significance of the character of Jesus in the reactions of people to what I'm doing as an actor,” Krogman says. “I see it in the choices I'm making and in the sequences in the play where I heal people. Although it’s theatre and I am not healing anyone for real, the reactions truly mean something to me; it's the reactions of the people to me putting my hand on their head and now suddenly they can see they're the ones that are actually doing the acting that sells. I feel so served by the cast.”
Krogman thinks that a lot of people appreciate moments that they get to feel a great character and can identify with certain moments of the play. Krogman believes that seeing sort of grace and compassion that Jesus gets to show to Peter is a strong moment for the audience.
“I'm moved by it because I also need grace,” Krogman says. “ You know, it's a strange thing to be embodying and portraying the grace that's offered when I know that I'm a person who needs that. It's an interesting thing, but I think it's also something that we ought to do for each other too. Like, we all need a lot of grace and it's a privilege to get to portray that kind of effect in a play.”
Krogman says that the Badlands Passion Play invokes a great deal of imagination in people and that he believes imagination is probably the most amazing thing that humans have access to in their experiences of life. Imagination, Krogman says, is why story, meaning, and even entertainment has the value it has; it's the ability to see what we can't see or think. Krogman says that the whole concept of imagination is the capacity to see what is there but is hard to see.
“I think as storytellers we kind of get to practice enabling people to see themselves in ways that maybe they aren't likely to, but in ways that are actually really helpful,” Krogman says. “If audiences can identify with some part of the story we're telling, they enjoy it more. I think to enable the imagination to just really be healthy and thrive I think is to enable the life of a person to thrive.”
Krogman truly views his career and participation in the Badlands Passion Play as a service because a career, a living in the arts doesn’t bring forth as much money as other careers do. However, Krogman says that being in such a creative career is like a labor of love and involves getting to know a really cool community of people. Since such a career doesn’t offer spectacular pay, Krogman says that him and other thespians live more simply than most, but find the sacrifices worth it doing what they love to do.
“I think the most important piece of being part of any theater effort is to realize that you're part of a community of people who are all giving a ton and even sacrificing to be there,” Krogman says. “I think, I think one of the things that causes people to get into theater in the first place can be a need for significance and attention.”
In addition to acting, Krogman has also invested his creative energies into teaching theatre, film making, and documentary creation in places including King’s University, Prairie Bible Institute, and Rosebud School of the Arts. Krogman thinks it’s very fulfilling to participate in storytelling in as many ways as he can; the variety is a way to develop his craft and also pursue opening people’s eyes to their imaginations.
“The advice I would give to like a starting actor is, if you get the privilege of being part of a community of people that are telling a story, serve it and spend yourself in the service of it with you,” Krogman says. “Theater is one of those places where the more you give of yourself, the more you get in return. It’s pretty special to be a part of the theater community; it’s a legacy that predates me and I’ve been privileged to ride the wave of it.”