Every year, Borderlands Theater stages “A Tucson Pastorela.”
And every year, it’s a hoot to see which public figure is demonized as Lucifier.
One year, that role fell to Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne. Another, a certain “American Idol” judge got the honor.
In this year’s “Pastorela,” Lucifer is ‘guised in the persona of television food personality — or, more accurately, ex-TV food personality — Paula Deen, whose empire deflated this year after a former employee accused her of racial discrimination in a lawsuit.
Ah, but that’s just part of the fun of this 18-year-old event, which Borderlands previews tonight and opens Friday for a weekend-long run: It’s written in rhyme. It’s loaded with references to current issues and local and national figures. It has a beautiful Spanish rendition of “Silent Night” — hear it once and you will only want to hear it in that language forever. It’s got live Waila music played by Gertie and the T.O. Boyz. And something special just for kids — a piñata after the end of the show.
“Pastorela” is different every year, but the story of the shepherds who are following the star to Bethlehem remains the same. Of course, the journey is fraught with temptation, courtesy of Lucifer and a slew of other devils. But the Archangel Michael is watching over this travelling band of poor, hungry and determined folks.
In addition to that devilish Dean, the shepherds will be confronted with such issues as unemployment, genetically modified corn, and the Barilla pasta incident — the chairman of the company was caught on camera making anti-gay remarks and there was a ripple effect of protest around the globe.
Pastorelas have a deep tradition across Mexico and Spain. They date back to the 12th century, but the themes, characters, and scripts all reflect events from the past year. While there’s fresh material every year, there are always stock characters. Other than Lucifier and the Archangel Michael who comes to the rescue, you’ll meet Bato and Gila, the clowns in the story, and an ill-tempered and lazy shepherd who would rather sleep than follow that star.