Rio del Corazon:

The Magic of Tony Mares

Teatro Paraguas presents Rio del Corazon: The Magic of Tony Mares

January 19-21, 2017; Thursday/Friday/Saturday at 7:30 pm

Teatro Paraguas Studio, 3205 Calle Marie, Santa Fe $15 general admission/ $12 students, Call 424-1601 to reserve your tickets!

Argos MacCallum speaks with Spencer Beckwith of KUNM about Rio del Corazón

Teatro Paraguas will also present Rio del Corazon: The Magic of Tony Mares at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque for one weekend only, January 27-29, 2017. Tickets are $18 (discounts available) and may be purchased at

Teatro Paraguas will present Rio del Corazon: The Magic of Tony Mares, a tribute to the late Ernesto Antonio “Tony” Mares of Albuquerque. The tribute will include a performance of his play Lola’s Last Dance, as well as dramatic readings of poems selected from his books.

Born in 1938 in Old Town in Albuquerque, Ernesto Antonio “Tony” Mares was a poet, actor, playwright, historian, professor, translator and activist. After completing a doctorate in European history at the University of New Mexico in 1973, Mares taught history, Spanish, creative writing, and American literature at Colorado College, the University of New Mexico, the University of Arkansas, New Mexico Highlands University, the University of North Texas, and elsewhere. He died on January 30, 2015.

Lola’s Last Dance was commissioned by La Companía de Teatro de Albuquerque and was produced in 1979, and was published by University of New Mexico Press in 1989. Lola, a retired prostitute in Albuquerque’s Old Town, has always lived life to the fullest. "I always needed to be free," she says, "free to walk out into the sun. Free to dance whenever I wanted and with whomever I wanted." Her dreams are now filled with many lively ghosts whom she recognizes from her glorious past, such as the Banker, the Senator, and the Rag-and-Bone Man. But there is one veiled figure whom she does not recognize…

The play was inspired by several retired prostitutes whom Mares knew who lived in Old Town during his youth. His other plays include: Padre Antonio José Martinez de Taos (1983), El Corrido de Joaquin Murieta (1984), Santa Fe Spirit (1989), and Shepard de Pan Duro (1989).

His books include: The Unicorn Poem & Flowers and Songs of Sorrow West End Press); With the Eyes of a Raptor (Wings Press); and translations of Spanish poet Ángel González, (Wings Press, 2007). He co-authored, with Tomás Atencio and Miguel Montiel, Resolana: Emerging Chicano Dialogues on Community and Globalization (University of Arizona Press, 2009). His book of poetry, Conversations I Never Had With Patrociño Barela, was published in 2010 by University of New Mexico Press. Río del Corazón , his last book of poetry, was launched at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque April 1, 2011.

Tony Mares performed in Teatro Paraguas’ original 2009 production of Para que yo me lame Angel Gonzalez, a dramatic tribute to the poet Angel Gonzalez. Mares worked closely with Gonzalez, a Spanish poet who taught at UNM, and translated much of his poetry. The production was part of Teatro Paraguas’ ongoing series ¡Poesía Viva!, which celebrates Hispanic and Latino poets by presenting their works in dramatic form.

Christmas at the Health Care Center on the West Mesa

My aunt is a wisp of curled hair,

Tiny cumulonimbus clouds circling

Her ninety years of life.

Outside, the contrails of great jets

Streak through the clear blue sky.

There is seldom snow in the singular

Motions of the winter of New Mexico.

Ah, but when the snow falls

It brings out the child to play!

We move toward some Christmas rendezvous

Now, each our own way as best we can

Across the nursing home landscape.

Her world bound now by the frontier

Of wheelchair to bed

And bed to wheelchair, my aunt

Dances round and round inside her head.

She dances back to the thirties and twenties

And says she loves me very much.

I give her a toy to pass the time.

It changes color to the touch.

Now she makes her own rainbows

As she talks of small angels

Who sang all morning in choir

Moving from room to room.

My aunt chatters on and on.

She is dancing to some faraway desire

Caught up in her own deep song.

She is dancing toward the bright light.

She is dancing toward Bethlehem

Deep in the interior of the nursing home.

We hear off in the distance a ghost train

Whistling to a crescendo

Then fade, Doppler effect, into a moan.

I think of Van Gogh’s whirling stars

Turning the dark to a blinding white,

Fred Astaire and his dazzling smile,

And for me there is no regret.

I hear great-grandfather’s violin

Cracked and silenced a long time ago.

It plays the tunes he must have played

At weddings, funerals, gatherings like this.

Those songs are like the missing voices

From the old photograph in the album

All this is about to become.