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WYOpen Stages to Present ‘Bless Me, Coatlicue’ at UW Feb. 11-12

February 3, 2022
woman with arms crossed on chest
UW Department of Theatre and Dance Professor Cecilia Aragón is the director of “Bless Me, Coatlicue,” the first play about the life and work of the celebrated Chicano writer Rudolfo Anaya. The play will take place Friday and Saturday, Feb. 11-12, at 7:30 p.m. in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Thrust Theatre. (Jed Cabrera Photo)

WYOpen Stages, a diversity initiative of the University of Wyoming Department of Theatre and Dance, will present “Bless Me, Coatlicue” Friday and Saturday, Feb. 11-12, at 7:30 p.m.

“Bless Me, Coatlicue” is the first play about the life and work of the celebrated Chicano writer Rudolfo Anaya. The dramatic staged reading is produced by UW Department of Theatre and Dance faculty members Cecilia Aragón and Patrick Konesko, and directed by Aragón. Performances will take place in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Thrust Theatre.

A talkback session with playwright Robert Con David-Undiano, a friend of Anaya, will follow the Saturday performance.

Tickets are $5 for the public and $3 for senior citizens and students. To purchase tickets, visit the Performing Arts box office, call (307) 766-6666 or go online at www.uwyo.edu/finearts.

Anaya had deep roots in rural New Mexico. His father’s family members were cattle workers and sheepherders, while those on his mother’s side were farmers from Puerto de Luna in the Pecos Valley. His upbringing is reflected in his many novels, children’s books, poetry, plays and nonfiction works. His groundbreaking work, which explores the human condition, has had an influence on Chicano/a literature since the 1970s.

“Bless Me, Coatlicue” tracks Anaya’s development and identity as a writer from his early work in the 1960s until his death in 2020.

“Coatlicue is the Aztec goddess of life and death,” Aragón says. “She is front and center in this play, omnipresent throughout the protagonist’s life as he comes to terms with his identity on the borderlands of many cultures.”

The play explores Anaya’s relationship with his wife, Pat, and niece Aragón, who has directed many of his plays. “Bless Me, Coatlicue” highlights issues that have confronted emerging Chicano writers, including personal integrity, community building, lost Indigenous history and the lure of commercialism in the publishing industry.

Central to the play is Anaya’s relationship to “la curandera,” or a spiritual healer, who is a prominent figure in Anaya’s most acclaimed work, “Bless Me, Ultima.”

“Upholding the role of a cultural scribe, Anaya faced many transformations, so this play will speak powerfully to Latinos and those who know Anaya’s work,” Aragón says. “It will resonate just as much with others. These pivotal moments in Anaya’s life are at the core of the human experience.”

“Bless Me, Coatlicue” is supported, in part, by a grant from the Wyoming Arts Council, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyoming Legislature. Co-sponsors for the production are community sponsor KOCA 93.5 FM, La Radio Montañesa: Voz de la Gente; the UW School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice; the UW Department of Modern and Classical Languages; and the UW Spanish program.

WYOpen Stages is an outgrowth of the UW Department of Theatre and Dance’s commitment to addressing issues of diversity, inclusion and equity on its home stages. The initiative aims to develop, produce and present socially conscious and thought-provoking work that engages the community in dialogue on issues of diversity. This includes a commitment to increasing and diversifying recruitment; retention; production; and casting practices as the department pursues an equitable and inclusive culture in production work.

For more information, call Kathy Kirkaldie, UW Fine Arts coordinator, at (307) 766-2160 or email kirisk@uwyo.edu.

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