The representations of the Nativity Scene of Tirisiti are celebrated in the city of Alcoy for more than one hundred years and are heirs, perhaps almost unique, of a long Mediterranean tradition of puppet theaters, in small and thematic format with popular and religious elements. This very particular substrate curdled within the framework of the industrialized society of Alcoy in the middle of the 19th century.
The nativity scene, which brings together well-known plot elements, also adds other heterogeneous elements that reflect local customs or singular events carried out by typified or other characters that the public can even recognize. It is evident that the nativity scene has well-established roots in popular esteem and, therefore, the level of demand regarding its conservation and dissemination, grows each new season. The public is counted by thousands and the demand always exceeds the offer of the previous Christmas, forcing to anticipate the performances until the first days of December.
Regarding the technique, it should be noted that the puppets are of the type called “standing and rod”. This means that the dolls, mounted on vertical rods, run through the stage inside some guides practiced among the various scenic elements. The manipulators, from below and sheltered from the eyes of the public, print the various longitudinal, transverse movements and oscillations of the figures, and endow them with remarkable agility. Precisely this characteristic manipulation, almost disappeared in favor of others such as the thread, the glove or the black theater, is one of the factors that bring more interest to the nativity scene, as it is also the vocalization of the characters through the use of a metal tab , the significant bilingualism and the role of the narrator that stimulates the participation of the public.
As a final consideration, we will emphasize the great historical and anthropological value of the Nativity Scene of Tirisiti of Alcoy. Perhaps, together with another small puppet show from Cádiz, it is the most singular and ancient event still alive, of this format, in Spain. We are infront of some singular elements of the collective cultural baggage. In the case of Tirisiti, we can speak of a vigorous transplant from another era that brings us closer to the society of yesteryear and to the generations that have preceded us.