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Love letters: ‘El Campo Santo’ podcast features stories about places in New Mexico

Blackout Theatre presents “El Campo Santo,” a podcast series of stories. (Courtesy of Blackout Theatre)

Leonard Madrid’s work for the better part of a year has been working on the podcast “El Campo Santo.”

The podcast is based on his work as a playwright, with a sci-fi/fantasy twist.

“The idea of the supernatural, that intrigues me.”

Madrid’s playwright work is serving as the impetus behind “El Campo Santo,” a multimedia, multigenre performance featuring the work of dozens of New Mexicans, including members of Blackout Theatre and Theatre 3, students of UNM and CNM, and independent writers, performers and artists.

A map by Hans Engvall shows the areas featured in “El Campo Santo.” (Courtesy of Blackout Theatre)

Each story is a love letter to a city, town, landmark, or natural wonder of the state, told in unique formats from music to comedy to supernatural horror and free to discover within a hand-drawn map by Hans Engvall.

Madrid, who is also artistic director at Blackout Theatre, has been a supporter of the genre folkloric realism.

His play “Aurora” won the Kennedy Center’s Latinx Playwriting Award. Las Arañas was developed as a part of Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Ground Floor Residency.

“The Sparrow’s Daughter,” an original Blackout production, expanded the universe, and the podcast “El Campo Santo” explores new legends through mysterious letters that find their way to a house in Barelas.

The original vision for “El Campo Santo” was an evening of one-act plays to be performed live at the conclusion of the podcast.

“Our plans, like everyone else’s, were disrupted by COVID-19,” Madrid says. “Rather than closing down the project completely, we chose to do what we always do: adapt. We moved everything online so we could continue to tell our stories and continue to explore ways of making our performances more accessible.”

Madrid says the piece has about 30 stories.

“It wasn’t just Blackout playwrights,” he says. “All of the playwrights have a connection to New Mexico. We had to figure out how to do everything remotely when the pandemic stopped everything.”

“El Campo Santo” is available online for free at blackouttheatre.com/el-campo-santo.

Individual podcast episodes are available to stream on Anchor and Spotify.

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