Every Christmas, communities across California put their own stamp on las posadas, traditional Mexican processions to celebrate the nativity. This weekend in Sacramento, one of those processions starts off on the streets, and then heads into a theater. In "La Pastorela de Sactown," a bilingual cast of musicians and actors will stage a satirical holiday musical about three shepherds, with very modern lives.
There’s the Mexican-American assemblyman caught up in a scandal (Elio Gutierrez), the single mom who works in an office (Olivia Chavez), and a landlord who speaks only Spanish as a way to reflect his pride in his culture (Joaquin Aranda). They’re caught between the devil and an archangel, who shows up as an activist and tasks them with helping an undocumented homeless couple expecting a baby.
"Given the political climate right now, it’s a perfect take on an old story," says director Wilma Bonet. "Pastorelas are always about the angels and the devils, and people making decisions about what’s right and what’s wrong. During the holidays, this story reminds you that there’s more than just a 'me-me-me' society."
Bonet and others involved in the production are former members of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, known for reflecting modern-day political events through popular theater. And this piece echoes that spirit, transforming heavy political commentary into a show that’s slapstick and lighthearted. And this production is fully bilingual, with glittery costumes and a whole lot of singing.