Teatro Vivo’s La Pastorela: A Background of the Play

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Teatro Vivo cast practicing their lines before rehearsal. (Photo Credits: Jordan Kasprzynski)

Teatro Vivo will be performing the Mexican Christmas story La Pastorela for their Christmas show this year. Pastorela is a Mexican Christmas story from the shepherd’s perspective. Although the plot of the story revolves around religion, the story is filled with messages about life, mankind, and the battle of good versus evil with a comedic tone. Teatro Vivo’s rendition of the play infuses classic Mexican songs to modern hits with colorful costumes.

La Pastorela is a Mexican tradition of recreating the biblical passage where the shepherds follow the Star of Bethlehem to find the Child of Christ. The play includes characters such as The Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, baby Jesus, Shepherds Bato, Tubero, Tubal, Lucifer and Archangel San Gabriel.

The play begins with the shepherds hearing of the amazing abundance in Bethlehem, where they go to find the baby Jesus. However, they experience a series of changes in fortune and confront the Devil, who will do everything possible to prevent them from completing their mission. It is with the help from the Archangel San Gabriel’s intervention to defend the shepherds from Lucifer and continue on their journey. Upon arriving in Bethlehem, they find the baby Jesus and sing him a lullaby to help put the baby to rest. The play ends with the shepherds offering the baby Jesus with gifts and a dance of joy.

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Lucifer and his minions furious after learning about the coming of baby Jesus. (Photo Credits: Jordan Kasprzynski)

The word “Pastorela” derives from the Italian word “Pasttorella” which means “little shepherdess.” Pastorela has been a play since the 11th century, experiencing multiple changes in content and performance. In the 1400’s plays saw an increase in popularity due to Shakespeare’s work, so church plays, especially holiday plays like Pastorela, became popular shows. Although the play experienced a dip in popularity in the 1900’s, the tradition had seen a decline an interest, but is still continuing strong.

The play’s opening night is December 3rd and  is free to the public, courtesy of  the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican Cultural Center (ESB MACC). The production will run until December 20th at the ESB MACC. On December 4th 6pm-7:30pm, Teatro Vivo will be hosting a pre-play reception, named Vino y Chocolate, in the lobby gallery  with  deserts, appetizers and drinks. Tickets for this special event are $35 for both the reception and a reserved seat for the 8 pm show. Tickets are on sale now for all performances $12 seniors, students and teachers, $15 general admission and $20 reserved seating. Thursday December 10 and 17 are pay what you wish at the door only.

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