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Carry on the Tradition: Stage Your Own Pastorela

The Devil will always try to persuade the shepherds, and Saint Michael will be decisive. the shepherds tend to be enthusiastic, although there may be one who is lazy, easily persuaded to sin. There may be another who despite his resolve, is awkward and a buffoon throughout the pastorela.

New characters can also be created, a mailman,  policeman, fireman, politician, talking animals …..Don’t worry if they are not actual people. Pastorelas, both comical and instructive, are not required to respect reality or temporality.

The shepherds´adventures can take place on an unusual  stage, in a city for example, or somewhere with very specific characteristics such has the North of Mexico, or where they have to use public transportation. This would allow for comical situations but that at the same time have a moral

Nor is a huge investment in props or costumes necessary. Perhaps the actors are identified only by a  hat or a detail that defines who they are playing. Commonly available objects can be employed. What must not be missing, are the devil’s horns, and Saint Michael Arcangel’s halo and white garments.

As for the stage setting, this can be anything from a wide patio  to a true theater. No big investment is needed because the journey is generally in open spaces, and in all events, minimalist references can be used to indicate  the location: a road crossing, a wooden fence for the manger, a traffic light for a city…..

Writing a political pastorela requires more ingenuity but tends to be more successful.  The social reality of a specific place (a country, province, town) has to be recreated and the actions of its government and population observed in detail. The challenge is the transcribing of this reality in afunny or sarcastic fashion into the plot of the pastorela and  making each spectator stop and think about the behaviour.

The topic can also relate – always in a joking but instructive manner, of course – to the family in terms of responsibility, love for children, the tiring nature of a job, or the daily support members give each other. Even subjects like drug trafficking have served as an inspiration to keep the pastorelas current and to deliver a moving, evangelizing message, just as the ancient Mexicans did.

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