A nativity story with a contemporary setting

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This wonderful photo by MPR’s Jennifer Simonson from a dress rehearsal last week at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis offers a hint of the spectacular puppetry, in this case the Magi, that is part of a new nativity story.

The In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater production of La Natividad is actually a remounting of a production first done a few years ago.

You can hear my Minnesota Sounds and Voices report about it this afternoon as part of All Things Considered on Minnesota Public Radio News.

It’s the familiar, “no room at the inn” story of Mary and Joseph, or Maria and Jose’ in this retelling. The name change is intentional to give the Spanish/English language production a current events insight into the fragile existence of immigrants to this country, legal and otherwise.

The La Natividad production takes the audience on a procession through the south Minneapolis neighborhood ending at St. Paul’s Lutheran church where Patrick Cabella Hansel is co-pastor. His parishioners include Spanish speaking immigrants who, like Mary and Joseph, often face upheaval in their lives.

La Natividad ends happily for Maria and Jose’ and everyone else as they reach the church where there’s food and more music. La Natividad places the bible story in a contemporary setting and shows the audience how community and generosity are counter weights to fear and oppression.

The production runs this weekend and next in Minneapolis.

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