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Las Posadas comes to Sioux Center

When Dr. Socorro Woodbury arrived in Sioux Center and discovered that 800 to 1000 Hispanic people live in the area, she immediately began thinking about putting on a version of the Las Posadas. Las Posadas is a Latin American Christmas tradition telling the story of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay. It has been carried to many communities, especially in the Southwest United States. A year and a half after Woodbury's arrival, Las Posadas played in Sioux Center on December 19 and 20.

Dr. Socorro Woodbury (right) hopes that Las Posadas can help people in the community from Hispanic and Dutch backgrounds celebrate together and learn more about each other. Several Dordt College students played characters in the drama.

Dr. Socorro Woodbury (right) hopes that Las Posadas can help people in the community from Hispanic and Dutch backgrounds celebrate together and learn more about each other. Several Dordt College students played characters in the drama.

Woodbury, who drew on two traditions, the Las Posadas and the pastorela (a type of morality play), adapted and wrote the script to make it relevant to Sioux Center today.

"I thought this would be good for the community," Woodbury says. She notes that most people in Sioux Center have come from either the Netherlands or Mexico. They've all come looking for a place to stay, even though some have been here longer than others.

"As people of God it's good to learn from one another," Woodbury says. Prejudices form because people don't know each other. Coming together informally and learning each other's traditions can help all people feel more part of the community, she hopes.

Woodbury's partner in the project is Theatre Arts Professor April Hubbard, who also came to Dordt College last year.

"I think it was one of the first times I talked to her, at one of the first new faculty orientation sessions that she asked me to join her on the project," says Hubbard.

"We both agree that there are unique and wonderful things about this community," she adds. At the same time diversity can bring division.

"We hope to begin, at least, to expose and introduce people to differences and to each other," Hubbard said before the performance. Doing so can lessen differences, she hopes, and maybe start a community tradition.

Woodbury tailored the show to the people and situation of this area, using a pastorela morality play, a common tradition in Spanish-speaking countries She translated and adapted the pastorela part of the script into a morality play about two groups of people coming to this country to find a place to live. The devil tries to put barriers in peoples' way, creating a battle between good and evil. But like the shepherds, the travelers are guided by a star.

The performance was completely bilingual-in some places tri-lingual, with Dutch used as well. Transparencies accompanied spoken parts. Using histories of both groups of people, Woodbury's goal was to help people better understand each other.

The audience got involved in the event, too. In addition to the drama, readings and plenty of songs pulling them into the performance, the celebration continued after the performance when Mexican and Dutch Christmas treats were served, with a piņata to add to the festivities.

Although Woodbury and Hubbard were disappointed that more members of both communities didn't participate as actors, they hope they can make it easier for people to commit next time.

"We began rehearsing on Saturday afternoons already in September. It's a long time until the performance that way." Some people had to drop out because of the time commitment. "We may need to begin later and rehearse more frequently," says Hubbard.

"It's been wonderful to work with people I normally wouldn't have met," says Hubbard. And Woodbury's excitement grew as that of the cast grew. They hope to be able to repeat the event in the future.