Known in Mexico as the ''pastorela,'' theater fans take in the beloved local tradition of the Christmas play. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Mexicans gathered just north of Mexico City on Wednesday (December 21) for the staging of the beloved local tradition of the Christmas play, known as the "pastorela". For half a century, famed pastorelas in the Latin American country have delivered a yearly dose of mariachi music and laughter, illustrating the struggle between good and evil and retelling the story of the birth of Jesus with a Mexican twist. Pastorelas are held throughout Mexico but one of the most traditional performances is in the city of Tepotzotlan, where audiences have been taking in the plays for 50 years. Here, some 40 actors perform in a play through December 23. The play is aimed at communicating the spirit of Christmas. But pastorela actor Fernando Ramos explained that the message comes mixed with politics and satire. "Each year there is always some joke, something that happened during the year and is even a tradition. Everyone knows that each year they [the plays] come from politics, in this case the presidential election in the United States, and that's where it is renewing. It is the hope of leaving this year behind," he said. At the end of the play comes another Mexican tradition, "la posada", in which the characters of Mary and Jesus act out their search for accommodation in the city of Bethlehem. The audience responds to their pleas, lightning candles and singing along in one voice. Elaborate costumes, mariachi music and even Mexican food help people to get into the Christmas spirit. "I think that some parts of traditions have to do with values. As traditions are lost, that part (values) is also lost. So the fact that we maintain - with this kind of play - the past of our our Mexico also represents the rescue of values," said spectator Ivan Gonzalez. Nativity plays became popular in Mexico centuries ago when European Christian missionaries used the performances to evangelize the illiterate masses.