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The Players

Photographs from the Mary Ann Smothers Bruni Collection

Click any of the images to view a larger representation.

Recuerda flores de mi,
lo que va de ayer a hoy.
Que ayer maravilla fui,
ya sombra de mi no soy

Remember my fate flowers,
and what can happen from day to day.
Yesterday I was a daisy,
today I am not even a shadow of myself

“The first time I heard these lines was one evening at the University of Madrid. They were spoken by well-known professor/poet Dámaso Alonso, who later became the head of the Real Academia Española, the Royal Spanish Academy. The second time was a cold winter evening at Mission San José in San Antonio. They were spoken by Victor David Elizondo, a pig farmer from Lytle, Texas, who was speaking as the defeated Lucifer in Los Pastores .

As if by magic, I had seen the lines Spain's great 17 th Century poet Luis de Góngora had expropriated from popular poetry returned to the folk.“

--Mary Ann Smothers Bruni, in a speech to educators and librarians

When Bruni first began to attend performances and rehearsals of Los Pastores , the elders in the play paid no attention to the blue book printed by the Treviños, but continued repeating their lines as they had been handed down pastor to pastor . Newcomers were welcome to bring lines from other pastorelas , and circumstances--such as Elizondo's child wanting to perform or a player who did not know his part--brought new lines, actions, and even roles to the play.

But when the newcomers became these older men's educated grandchildren who read and respected the written word, Tranchese's published book came into its own. Young players now learn their lines from “the book,” but the new Little Devil, whose role does not exist in the book, still must learn the “old way.” Elizondo and other directors teach him verbally, helped with hand scribbled notes. In this way the evolving tradition of Los Pastores , documented with detail and personal care by Mary Ann Smothers Bruni, has survived and continues in 21 st Century San Antonio.

“People do not know the real meaning of Christmas, especially the children. We need to keep our traditions alive, to educate our children in these traditions.”

--Victor David Elizondo, from Los Pastores: History and Performance in the Mexican Shepherd's Play of South Texas by Dr. Richard Flores

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Benson Last updated: March 28, 2005.
Created by: Craig Schroer - Electronic Services Librarian
Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin
Please send comments to: schroer@mail.utexas.edu

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