“La Posarela,” now in its fifth year, will be presented at Brava Theater on Sunday, Dec. 8. It is a combination of the Mexican tradition of Posadas and the Spanish tradition of Pastorelas.
In Mexico, “Posadas” refer to the nine days before Christmas where people journey through towns while engaging in caroling.
Pastorelas, a tradition that derives from 16th century Spain, are religious dramas called “autos sacramentales.” Franciscan Friars used them to spread Christianity throughout Mexico. As time passed, the dramas became less religious and included social undertones and humor.
Nowadays, Pastorelas are known as plays that reenact the story of the biblical figures Mary (Maria) and Joseph (Jose) as they journey to Bethlehem looking for shelter. The journey includes encounters with angels as well as with the devil, depicting the natural fight against good and evil.
“I would like to keep the Christmas traditions alive in the Bay Area,” said Corina Vela, who will star as Maria. “I want to build community—to have the Latino community remember their childhoods—and (for) the non-Latinos to come also to try and build a bridge.”
Intended for all ages, the bilingual play will be presented with an unconventional twist—a Mission take on the nativity story, as it addresses the themes of immigration and gentrification in the Mission district.
“What attracted me to it is the joy—the joy that comes out of the stage,” said Carlos Barón, script writer and actor. “It is a cast engaged in something that brings a sense of peace. It’s not so much the message itself. It’s the gathering.”
This community effort is organized by the Community Music Center (CMC), as well as other local groups including Coro del Pueblo, The Mission District Young Musician Program (MDYMP), Solera Singers, 30th Street Chorus, Latin Vocal, and other special guests.
Martha Rodríguez-Salazar will lead the production as musical and artistic director, and Hugo Carbajal of the San Francisco Mime Troupe will be the show’s theatrical director.
“La Posarela” will be presented at the Brava Theater, 2781 24th St. on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance, $7 at the door (space permitting). Performances will be followed by a Mexican holiday fiesta, with tamales, atole (a traditional drink made from ground corn) and a piñata for the little ones.