Tradition, Chicano-style

You might think of it as a New Mexican Christmas pageant, but the tradition from which Luis Valdez's adaptation of La Pastorela comes goes back centuries, all the way from Europe to Mexico to New Mexico to the San Luis Valley of Colorado...and now, to the stage of Su Teatro in Denver. The story of humble shepherds traveling to Bethlehem, this folk tale is spiced up by an epic battle between the dark angel Luzbel and the archangel San Miguel. Yet Valdez's version, written years ago for the seminal California Chicano theater group El Teatro Campesino, is also very funny — a trait born of the company's roots in politicized street performances during the United Farmworkers uprisings of the '60s and '70s.

“La Pastorela is a fun, family-friendly play in the Chicano theater tradition. We never take ourselves too seriously," says Su Teatro artistic director Tony Garcia. "This play is culturally relevant, but it transcends the Chicano experience to provide a universal holiday story.” It's also serving as Su Teatro's annual holiday-season nod to the St. Cajetan's Reunification Project, which brings together former denizens of the Auraria neighborhood who were displaced by redevelopment and the rise of the Auraria campus.

La Pastorela opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Su Teatro at the Denver Civic Theatre, 721 Santa Fe Drive, and continues through December 22; Luis Valdez will be honored at a free reception before this Saturday's performance at 7 p.m. For tickets, ranging from $12 to $20, visit or call 303-296-0219. Su Teatro also invites AARP card-holding barrio old-timers and their families for a special matinee performance on December 15; admission is a $3 donation, with a six-ticket limit per AARP member attending.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Dec. 5. Continues through Dec. 22, 2013

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd