ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Arogs MacCallum had a serendipitous moment. And that moment was the impetus in getting “Our Lady of Mariposas” on its way to the stage.
“My first concern was always about casting the 7-year-old girl,” he says. “We tried to cast it last summer but weren’t able to. We needed an actor that could handle the broad spectrum of emotions.”
MacCallum is the artistic director at Teatro Paraguas in Santa Fe. He also is the director of the play.
He was drawn to “Our Lady of Mariposas” because of the heartfelt story Santa Fe resident Alix Hudson writes about.
“It’s a beautiful story,” he says. “You can only wait so long, but there’s always hope. I haven’t directed something in over four years and was ready to get back to it.”
The play is set in southeastern New Mexico in early 2002, following the massive die-off of monarch butterflies in February of that year. Manuel, played by Jason Jaramillo, is trying to raise his 7-year-old daughter Esperanza, played by Maya Sanchez, alone after the inexplicable disappearance of his wife Estrella.
The father and daughter wait and hope for Estrella’s return, as well as the return migration of the butterflies from Mexico.
Playwright Hudson was inspired to write the story, which unfolds through Esperanza’s memories as a grown woman, when her lifelong love of monarchs and milkweed blended with an unshakable image of a little girl who could not stop asking where her mother was.
The cast includes Rosario Roybal, Liza Frolkis and Tomás Rivera, with original music performed by JoJo Sena de Tarnoff.
MacCallum says the play is bilingual.
“Alix is 26 and is fluent in Spanish,” he says. “She has an ear for the local idiom and that adds to the heart of this play.”
“Our Lady of Mariposas” began its run in Santa Fe and will be staged at the National Hispanic Cultural Center as part of its “Siembra: Latino Theater Festival.”
Teatro Paraguas is known for focusing its stories by and on Hispanics in the Southwest. This is the second play the company has put on as part of the “Siembra” series.
“We’ve grown to have a great relationship with the NHCC,” he says. “They invited us back for this show and it’s very special.”
MacCallum is grateful he was able to find Sanchez to play Esperanza.
“That was the key in getting the play off the ground,” he says. “Maya enrolled in our children’s theater last spring. When I saw her on stage, I knew I could pull the play off if she agreed to play the role of Esperanza.”