Elvira Tafoya Oral History
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Raised in El Paso, Texas, Elvira moved to Santa Barbara in 1975, where she started teaching a Spanish language course for native Spanish speakers at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). In teaching the course, she discovered that the amount of readily available Spanish texts was limited; her research brought her to the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. There, she found an original version of La Pastorela, a Christmas play that depicts the Devil and St. Michael battling for the souls of traveling shepherds, that had been transcribed by Pablo de la Guerra. She used the play in her classroom to teach rhyme schemes and the language, and then passionately became involved in putting the play on with her students acting. The play has since become a staple for SBTHP’s Christmas festivities and an annual crowd-pleaser.
Above Photo: Elvira (bottom right), with the cast of La Pastorela at the Presidio chapel (December 2010).
Clip 1: Elvira describes her first finding of La Pastorela at the Santa Barbara Mission.
Clip 2: Elvira explains why she produces the play in the original Spanish language instead of translating it, even though the message embedded within the play can be understood in any language.
Clip 3: Why is La Pastorela so important? To Elvira, it’s all about tradition.
Clip 4: Elvira enjoys putting the play on at the Presidio Chapel because the audience is typically a mix of cultures.
Elvira and La Pastorela have also been regularly featured in La Campana, SBTHP's quarterly publication. To find articles, please refer to the La Campana index.
*To hear the entire oral history interview or additional clips, or to read hardcopies of archived La Campana articles, please make an appointment with the Presidio Research Center at (805) 966-5073.