What a find – actually, what a privilege – to be part of a modest audience to see and experience this seasonal play – a play with live folk music – La Pastorela: Desesperados in the Desert! This marvelous nativity play by writer and principle actor Zarco Guerrero, and produced by his wife Carmen de Novais, is considerably more than the traditional telling of the birth of Christ story. Expecting Christmas adulation – perhaps done even quite well – what we got was much much more. We are given theater that is nearly experimental in places, set in the Sonoran desert, rich in symbolic parallels, and a play full of life, sadness, fears and dreams, but never one to take itself too seriously. A play totally professional, without the slickness found in some of the big-budget companies – but folksy and funny and an ensemble able to communicate beyond the words themselves a history of respect and love of humanity. Guerrero´s Diablo is hip, self-assured and street savvy; his costume and mask a work of art with scary and ridiculous warring for our assessment, and his dialogue snappy and pithy with a number of current political references. The weeping lament of Stella Pope Durate´s grieving mother bought tears to most of us, and the dancing of Lilana de Leon, ranging from exciting flamenco to expressionistic, was phenomenal – and how she managed to turn the long scarf she was twirling with into the bundled Christ child instantaneously in front of our eyes, I still can´t figure out! The intermingling of Spanish and English lines seemed seamless to me – and I´m totally deficient in the former. The music too, which was both recorded and live worked seamlessly and added depth and pathos to the action. This is a play not only to see, but even see again. Its Devil, as they say, rocks – but the spirit of Christ rules!
–Laurie Holden Nov 30th, 2007
La Pastorela, written by Rodrigo Duarte-Clark and adapted by Zarco Guerrero, last night at MCC. We laughed we cried, we were forced to think, and we heard some very beautiful music. I had no idea how talented Carmen, Zarco’s wife is! This lady played the guitar, the accordian and sang like a pro. She’s charming and pretty and dang it, she even produced the thang! Everyone took their parts very seriously yet delivered some very funny material, and although some are better actors than others, their shyness seemed to dissapate and soon the only distraction was the fact that I am too ignorant of the Spanish Language. That’s right folks, you have to follow along and grit your teeth through some dialogue, and monologue, but THAT’S OKAY. There’s enough English that you can figure out what’s happening yourself, Although, if you have a bilingual friend, it would be sweet to sit next to them… I think I missed a joke or two. And there was a lot of funny! The jokes ,the cast, the little goats that inhabit the scene as not-always-passive bystanders. We chuckled at those critters throughout the evening. Without sounding like I’m gushing, too much, I also will complement Zarco’s ability to entrance and entertain an audience. You can tell he’s done this kind of thing before. Totally at home on the stage, he plays El Diablo, the Devil. (See, you DO know some Spanish already!) Lots of good reasons to go and see it. Many surprises.
–Deon December 5th, 2007
The actors were very sincere in portraying their roles. Zarco – of course – was larger than life as El Diablo!! Thank you for the heart, soul and humor your shared in this special event.
Delighted, intrigued, captivated, and moved to design a Christmas holiday with gratitude, humor, and deeper insight after viewing Zarco´s Pastorela, “Desesperados en el Desierto.” With the wide ranging rhythms of live Latino folk music, the drama unfolds as el Diablo (Zarco Guerrero) attempts to weaken the hearts and spirits of the poor and unsuspecting “pastores” (shepherds) as they make their way to new pastures (and new lands) in search of a better life. Stella Pope Duarte´s portrayal of a mother grieving her slain daughter (Las Mujeres de Juarez) touches upon the essence and fragility of our lives. Her exposé awakens our senses with the cry of justice, traveling us to acceptance, and hope. The deaf Bartolo amuses us with his simple good nature, a profoundly truthful and spiritual character he faces el Diablo in combat with courage and conviction. And then to mesmerize and enchant us “La Calaca” (Lilian de Leon) dances her way into the awkward core of our understanding of “La Muerte,” invigorating our spirit in feeling the breath of the Toro (Bull), and in a sublime dance as “La Virgen Maria” ultimately lifting our higher consciousness to the birth of salvation through the coming of the Christ Child. This production has left a lasting mark on the spirit of “Navidad,” softening our hearts to the plight of the poor, to face our own interior battles with “El Diablo,” and finally to gaze upon our hope for salvation in the brightness of the Eastern Star. What an inspiring performance for the whole family, the best Pastorela yet. Congratulations Zarco, Carmen and Crew!