Press release: Southwest Premiere of Bless Me, Ultima Coming To Clovis

New Mexico’s beloved novel, Bless Me, Ultima, by Santa Rosa native and acclaimed Chicano writer, Rudolfo Anaya, comes to the stage at Marshall Auditorium, Saturday, October 23, 7p.m. in its southwest premiere. Adapted by Mr. Anaya in collaboration with Albuquerque’s Vortex Theatre and the National Hispanic Cultural Center, this is the second performance of the 2010-2011 Cultural Arts Series sponsored by Clovis Community College, The Citizens Bank of Clovis, and Dr. and Mrs. Gene Lovato. Four very talented students from the Clovis Municipal Schools will join the Vortex Theatre cast during this production.

The play, set in Guadalupe, NM during World War II, captures the magic of childhood with poetic elegance. Torn between his mother’s earthy farming family and his father’s wild vaquero brothers, young Antonio finds a wondrous middle ground in his relationship with the wise old curandera, an elderly traditional Hispanic healer, Ultima.

The main plot centers around Ultima’s struggle to stop the witchcraft of the three daughters of Tenorio Trementina, while Antonio, after witnessing several deaths, must deal with religious and moral issues. The story, seen through the eyes of the seven-year old Antonio (Anaya claims the character is based on his life when he was a young boy growing up in Santa Rosa), presents the totality of life, the many ways in which one looks at the world, and the connection between every human being. This story captures the soul of a people – and of a community.

Anaya grew up hearing romantic Chicano stories told by his family and friends. Many of the stories were founded on the folklore of nature—both good and evil powers that draw people into different situations. Anaya claims that in the early stages of writing Bless Me, Ultima, a curandera figure presented herself to him, telling him she was a healer who had come to guide him and that she must be in his writings. Her name was Ultima. Thus, his celebrated novel was born.

The novel has received praise from numerous renowned newspapers including the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Upon its release, it won the prestigious Premio Quinto Sol literary award and was selected for “The Big Read,” an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts. Anaya, who taught nineteen years at University of New Mexico before retiring in 1993, has also published Tortuga (1979), and Alburquerque (1992 – which is the original spelling of the City’s name) along with epic poems, short stories, nonfiction, plays, and children’s books.

Governor Bill Richardson announced in September that a film based on the novel will begin production in the Santa Fe area sometime in October 2010. Richardson said, “I am proud that the work of a New Mexican writer as talented and respected as Rudolfo Anaya—one of the most prominent Latino writers of our generation – will come to life right here.” Academy Award-winner producer Mark Johnson of The Chronicles of Narnia fame and AMC’s drama Breaking Bad, is one of three producers of the film.

Tickets are $15 general admission and $12 for seniors, military, students and children and may be purchased at the CCC Cashiers’ Windows, Clovis/Curry Chamber of Commerce, CAFB ITT Office, at the box office the evening of the performance (pending availability), or by calling 575-769-4035. Please call 769-4115 for more information. The Series offers a special family discount of five tickets for $40.