In the east part of the Yucatán Peninsula, land of monumental archaeological sites such as Chichén Itzá, Cobá, Ek Balam and Tulum; with the beautiful natural settings declared biosphere reserves of Sian Ka’an, Río Lagartos and San Felipe; among stunning caves and cenotes including Balankanché and Dzitnup, are communities who keep their traditions, customs, language, dance, music, and ancestral ceremonies very much alive. They are considered the heart of the Maya zone of Yucatán and Quintana Roo. X’ocen (“Take note of me, I am somebody, don’t forget me”) with its pre-Hispanic sanctuary, is one of these communities that displays its deep cultural roots.

Each year a season of the play “Momentos Sagrados Mayas” (Sacred Maya Moments) is presented in X’ocen, near Valladolid, written and directed by María Alicia Martínez Medrano, on a natural open-air stage. This play received the recognition “Reconocimiento a la Diversidad del Producto Turístico Mexicano 2013” given by the Secretaría de Turismo (SECTUR México).

The cast includes inhabitants of X’ocen, Dzitnup, Nohzuytún, San Silverio, Tekom, Tikuch, Xuilub and Yalchén.  There are 300 actors of all ages, and for over two decades they have received theater, dance, and music instruction offered in each community by the Laboratorio de Teatro Campesino e Indígena, who, through theater, seeks to contribute to the rescue of indigenous arts, contribute to the integral development of children and youth, and improve the quality of life of marginal populations in our country.

The play is the synthesis of a pre-Hispanic Maya / Mestiza / indigenous festival from the east part of the Yucatán Peninsula; a tradition which accumulated centennial symbols and mystics, blended with the daily tasks of people who pray, cook, eat, dance, laugh, and promise for themselves, for their families, and for humanity. And every year they fulfill their promise of giving seeds, fruits, dance, incense, and joy to the gods, to receive blessings in return. Traditions and daily tasks are re-created in this play which begins with the offerings of the H’Menes (Maya priests) and the village preparations. Pilgrims arrive from other villages with prayers, flowers, candles; children invade the scene with games and songs; women and men bring embroidery, firewood, hammocks; young men court charming maidens. These are the scenes of the village preparing for the most important celebration of the year which begins with an explosion of fireworks announcing the arrival of the Ceibo (Yaxché) amidst shouts of jubilation from the men who carry it on their backs. Thirteen maidens lead the ritual dance and veneration of the sacred tree. From then on everything is music, dance, joy; interrupted briefly by the passing of a funeral procession; and reaches its climax with the acting out of the killing of a bull (performed by an actor, not a real bull), to culminate with blessings and the massive shout of pride “This is who we are…here we are!” A blend of happiness and sadness pervades the ending, when the Ceibo is carried out accompanied by the sound of bugles and drums.

“Momentos Sagrados Mayas” is shown on Sundays from Jan. 18 to March 8, 2015, at 4 pm (entry at 3.45 pm). Entry 150 pesos.

Author and director: María Alicia Martinez Medrano. Production: Laboratorio de Teatro Campesino e Indígena (LTCI) en X’ocen, 12 km from Valladolid, 7 Km from the Valladolid-Carrillo Puerto highway.

Info: Mérida phone: (999) 924 4465. Email: [email protected]

For the creation of this project, financial support was received by the Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, through the Programa de Apoyo a Grupos Artísticos Profesionales de Artes Escénicas, México en Escena. Quinta Emisión

Lawson’s Original Yucatan Excursions offers tours to the performance. Click here to read their impression of the presentation. And here to see a short video of the production.