Wilberth HerreraWilberth Alfonso de Jesús Herrera Pérez, creator of great personalities like the Mestiza Lela Oxkutzcaba y Chereque, brought both happiness and learning through his regional theater work with puppets.

Self taught, actor (he performed in more than 12 plays), librettist, and theater director, he was a pioneer in incorporating puppets in regional theater. He left an unforgettable legacy for various generations of Yucatecans who used to go to Teatro Pedrito to see his original shows, with libretto and music especially written to entertain, and at the same time, share a message about values including justice, work, and honesty. He had a great number of followers of his TV series “Titeradas”, “Títere Chévere”, “Una maravilla” and “Nuevo Titeradas”, broadcast in the 90s on local television week after week.

It all started one afternoon when Wilberth, determined to entertain his children Pedro, Andrea, and Juan with an education that would bring them closer to culture and beauty, started a puppet theater, creating the characters, the librettos, and the music, involving the whole family, who learned to make the puppets with papier-mâché and wood, operate the marionettes, and much more. Thus were born Lela Oxkuctzcaba y Chereque, Tía Venus, Totoyo, Soila, Idiotina, Butaque, Doña Mireya, Don Mech, Tiburón Chato, and many other beloved characters who always displayed some Yucatecan trait; it became a portrait of society.

Completely dedicated to art, with the unconditional support of his wife and children, Andrea fondly remembers an anecdote about her father: as a child, she asked him what the puppets lived on and he responded that they live on applause; so that night she went and applauded each one, to the delight of her father.

Out of the hard work and efforts of the family, the Teatro Pedrito theater was created (Calle 55 No. 514 A por 62 y 64) in downtown Mérida, setting for more than 60 plays, including “Titeradas”, “Lelanieves y los siete chaparros”, “La Lela durmiente del monte”, “La Lela de las galaxias Episodio I: La amenaza del huay Chivo”, and “Xich Brother Vip”, among others.

Wilberth Herrera died in October 2011 and received a posthumous national science and arts award in the area of folk art and tradition the same year.

Andrea and Pedro not only learned from their father to create stories, and Juan as a musician to compose music, but also his example of “doing things well and with love”. Currently, the puppet company “La Compañía Titeradas” is made up of 10 people, and although the Teatro Pedrito re-opened in 2014 for a short season, it suspended activity because of technical problems. Thanks to donations, the theater re-opened permanently in 2016. Meanwhile, you can enjoy episodes of “Titeradas” on You Tube, and find out about their performances on the “Titeradas” Facebook page. Don’t miss it! It is great entertainment for the whole family.

By Violeta H. Cantarell

 

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