Every December a highlight here is the Noche en Belen (Night in Bethlehem) production. It varies somewhat year to year but it is a living nativity/ Christmas pagaent. This was the first year that it has been held indoors as well as the first time the newly renovated and roofed "Old theatre" has been used to house the production. The building was built in the early 1940's and is one of the origional buildings purchased when the orphanage began 40 some years ago.
The set was elaborate and wrapped all the way around the audience. It was filled with vendor stalls with palm thatched roofs to look like a street in Bethlehem. We parked ourselves in front of the carpeter shop. The stage contained 4 different sets, one of them on a roll away track. My hubby has been very busy with the frantic paced renovations and helping build of the sets.
The first evening was the "dress rehearsal" but we did two full productions to a packed theatre. The next two nights we did the production 9 times. We arrived to get in costume at 3 each afternoon and didn't leave until after midnight. A new group of people would be brought in the back door as the ones who had just seen the show exited out the side doors to recieve hot chocolate , goody bags and sweet bread. It was a grueling pace but an amazing experience. The kids only made it through the first couple showings each night. They went home early with daddy.
The production , that covered the whole life of Christ, contained two dance sequences that even us "town people" did. One included real palm branches during a "Hosanna" scene. I still can't get over the novelty of using real palm branches to celebrate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. The production also included real sheep, bleating lambs held by the shepherds, a donkey, a pony, a real crying baby and live violin music performed by the very talented director of the play.
A very overtired and overstimulated shepherd boy wanna -be.
Doesn't look tired to you? Thats exactly how we can tell Roman needs sleep...quickly..and lots of it. He basically starts vibrating and turns into the Tazmanian devil. We discovered a few years ago that this is our cue to escort him to bed....preferably before he starts vibrating.
Sweet little Gloria. What an actress she was! One of the main characters in the play. "Gabriel" and her had a part in most every scene. She was Gabriel's tag along watching and discussing the worlds greatest love story unfold. One of the most memorable scenes was the scene after Jesus joyful entry into Jerusalem. The lights dimmed, the two angels appeared and looked at an empty cross as it cast an eerie shadow across the stage. Little gloria cried and begged to know why something so terrible could have just happened. Why would God have allowed evil to truimph? That time in between was dark, and hopeless. To the disciples, to Jesus family, to all those who had hoped for a messiah...by all appearances hope was gone replaced by grief and fear.
Then into that dark stage entered two violinists and a soloist with the voice of an angel who sung Chris Tomlins "Amazing Grace - my chains are gone" in spanish. It was enough to make grown men weep. It was enough to make me want to fall to my knees in true comprehension of what grace means.
The next scene was a tomb, followed by lightning (strobe light) and then Jesus emerging and saying "oh death where is your victory?. Oh death where is your sting?"
"I am the way, the truth and the light"
The production took many man hours and the cooperation and work of many people to accomplish. It was so worth it though. The staff, the orphanage kids, the local church all contributed is some significant way. In 11 performances (each about an hour long) 5000 people witnessed the birth, life and resurection of Jesus. The prayer tents afterward were full of people searching for hope, grace, forgiveness and freedom from their own chains.