Over the years, besides looking for baby Jesus, New Carpa Theater Company's American Pastorela has searched far and wide for intelligent life in Arizona. Makes sense that this year, the troupe's branching out with Arizona Pastorela: Mission to Mars. Usually, the more-or-less devout Hernandez family of Sonora, Mexico, faces temptations by El Diablo on the way to catch the Metro to Bethlehem. Expanding the journey into space allows Sheriff Joe to leave Earth's atmosphere in search of proof the President's an alien.
This holiday mashup has firm historical roots: Pastorelas are siblings of the First Shepherd's Play, one of the earliest pieces of medieval dramaturgy. To share early Christianity with illiterate heathens, artists sucked ’em in with some topical, establishment-bashing humor interspersed with the story of the Savior's birth. American English pastorelas are now taking off in several cities, and New Carpa's continues through Sunday, December 9.