Los Pastores Folk Play Takes the Stage at Mission San José

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Katherine Barcenez, who plays Gilita, takes a break to sip hot cocoa during the performance.

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report

Katherine Barcenez, who plays Gilita, takes a break to sip hot cocoa during the performance.

On Saturday, Mission San José hosted the Guadalupe Players’ production of Los Pastores: The Shepherds Play, a folk play that dates back to the Spanish-colonial era.

The free production, which took place outside from 7-9 p.m., was presented by the Mission San José Parish. World Heritage Director Colleen Swain told the Rivard Report that the event was made possible from funds raised at the 2016 World Heritage Festival.

“It’s part of our cultural heritage,” Swain said. “… It is a religious play that is so intertwined in our culture and history.”

Traditionally sung in Spanish with English narration, the origin of the play goes back to European medieval nativity performances. Told from the shepherds’ point of view, the play depicts the journey shepherds took to Bethlehem to honor the Christ Child, as well as the obstacles put forward by Lucifer on the way. At its core, the performance shows both the internal and external battles between good and evil.

The play version of Los Pastores at Mission San José is based on a 1930s script, and it is believed that a version of the play was performed at the Spanish-colonial Missions in the mid-1700s.

Franciscan friars who came to the new world to evangelize, used the play to teach indigenous people about the nativity story in an approachable way. This year marked the 69th performance of Los Pastores at Mission San José.

The parish offered pan dulce and hot chocolate for attendees to purchase during the performance, and many opted to bring blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the show outside.

One thought on “Los Pastores Folk Play Takes the Stage at Mission San José

  1. I saw the Institute of Texan Cultures abbreviated version the night before. I hope the Guadalupe Players will continue this newer tradition as well as the San Jose performance.
    It’s not “professional”. That’s one of the things I really like. Like so many others I was a little “angel” with tinsel halo at our church candlelight Christmas service. As I got older I graduated to the choir. Some kids were The Holy Family and other traditional biblical figures. Baby jesus was a doll..just as in Los Pastores.
    All of this, even my protestant tradition, harkens back to the morality plays used to teach the illiterate faithful on the steps of medieval churches.
    There is much to be learned from lovingly portrayed amateur productions. They are a starting point for learning, whatever your religious background. Good and evil, struggle, cooperation, custom.
    You even get to cheer and boo. Try that at the Tobin!? I’m grateful to the Guadalupe Players for keeping tradition.

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