ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Leonard Madrid’s “Main Street, Portales” suffuses the magical realism of New Mexico with stories of love and redemption.
The evening of two companion one-act plays opens tonight at Central New Mexico Community College’s Coal Avenue Theatre.
The Albuquerque playwright set the story in his hometown of Portales. In “Volver, Volver, Volver,” a young man returns home, believing he has been gone three days.
Then he learns he’s been dead for three years.
“It’s about how one man has interacted with the women in his family: his mother, his wife and his daughter and he’s trying to make amends,” Madrid said.
The second piece, “Ambrosita,” is the tale of the town beauty testing the legend of who she will marry. She doesn’t even know the man, and as she walks through the streets of Portales, men react to her looks rather than her personality.
“It’s like magical realism,” Madrid said. “The day she was born, he picked her up and said, ‘I’m going to marry this girl.'”
Madrid’s plays have received national awards, including the Kennedy Center’s Latinidad award for Latino playwrights three times. His play “Aurora” was featured as part of the Festival Internacional de Teatro Universitario in Mexico City.
Madrid’s work focuses on the culture and voices of New Mexico.
“I think New Mexico is a pretty magical place,” he said. “We’ve got monsters and saints in every corner. It’s easy to take a step into the supernatural for us.”
The playwright, who grew up in the theater, deliberately writes roles for women.
“There aren’t many people doing that,” he said. “A man gets cast and the best actress they can get gets cast as the girlfriend with three lines. If I can write a good, strong female role, I will.”