Sunday, December 9, 2012

Arizona Pastorela: Mission to Mars

by Pa Rock
Culture Vulture

This marks the sixth season that the New Carpa Theatre Company has presented a Christmas pastorela in the city of Phoenix, and it was the first time that I have been fortunate enough to be in attendance.  Basically, the pastorela is a unique retelling of the Nativity with an overlay of the local social and political situation.   

The plot:  God, a female, has given birth to a human son whom she has named Jesus, and the baby is at home in Bethlehem.  God wants to spread the word about her son, so she commands the services of an earthly messenger named Bartolo to guide a family of boat racers named Fernandez from Sonora, Mexico, across the border and on to Phoenix – where they will board the Light Rail and go to Bethlehem.    Bartolo, who is hard of hearing, winds up guiding a family of goat raisers named Hernandez across the border and into the United States.

(Yes, the idea of the Light Rail going to Bethlehem is a bit far-fetched, but know this:  it will get to Bethlehem years before it ever reaches the West Valley of Phoenix!)

Meanwhile in Phoenix, Sheriff Joe is holding a press conference to announce that he will soon send an expedition to Mars because he now believes that is where Barack Obama was born.  Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, who has recently in real life been discovered to have been in a romantic dalliance with one of his staffers, joins forces with Satan (another female) to stop the Hernandez group from making it to Phoenix and boarding the Light Rail.  Horne, who has a sexual identity crisis during the course of the play, is referred to throughout the production as “Horney.”

There is a delightful scene in the pastorela where Tom Horne is brought, bound and gagged, before a panel of inquisitors in Hell including Muammar Gaddafi, Osama Bin Laden, Hitler (the chairman of the group), Kim Jung Il, and J. Edgar Hoover (in drag).   Interestingly, the actor who plays Hitler also plays Sheriff Joe – type casting, anyone?

Among the people that the Hernandez family meets while trekking across the desert are Mitt Romney and Barack and Michelle Obama.

Eventually the Hernandez family winds up on Mars where they, of course, encounter Sheriff Joe and a couple of Martian children who only speak Spanish.  

See, just your basic nativity story with some slight variations!

Kudos to playwright James E. Garcia who wrote the script, played one of the minor roles, and manages the New Carpa Theatre Company.    He remarked that there is never a shortage of material in Arizona and at times the annual production just seems to write itself.  

It will be interesting to see where the Arizona craziness takes next year's production.  The idea of Joe Arpaio going to Mars may seem tame by then!

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