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‘An amazing man’ ­– Teatro Paraguas honors NM poet, playwright

It’s been nearly two years since the world lost New Mexican Ernesto Antonio “Tony” Mares.

The poet and playwright left behind a strong body of work.

Argos McCallum, executive director of Teatro Paraguas, was a friend and wanted to honor Mares.

“Tony was just such an amazing man,” McCallum says. “He was an activist, a poet and playwright. He was also in one of our productions. This is where our friendship blossomed.”

Teatro Paraguas will present “Río del Corazón: The Magic of Tony Mares, featuring ‘Lola’s Last Dance.’ ”

The play is a tribute that will include a performance of Mares’ play “Lola’s Last Dance,” as well as readings of poems selected from his books.

Mares was born in 1938 in Old Town.

After completing a doctorate in European history at the University of New Mexico in 1973, Mares taught history, Spanish, creative writing, and American literature at Colorado College, the University of New Mexico, the University of Arkansas, New Mexico Highlands University, the University of North Texas and elsewhere. He died on Jan. 30, 2015.

“We’ve been working on doing this tribute, and the events at the NHCC happen to be just before the (second) anniversary of his death,” McCallum says.

In putting together the tribute, McCallum came across the script for “Lola’s Last Dance,” which was produced in 1979 and later published by UNM Press in 1989.

It was commissioned by La Compañía de Teatro de Albuquerque, along with pieces from Rudolfo Anaya and Denise Chavez.

“They basically got the big three writers of New Mexico,” he says. “Mares was always in good company. He was also a trailblazer when it came to his writing.”

Mares performed in Teatro Paraguas’ original 2009 production of “Para que yo me llame Ángel González,” a dramatic tribute to the poet Angel Gonzalez.

Mares worked closely with Gonzalez, a Spanish poet who taught at UNM, and translated much of his poetry.

“Tony always took in his surroundings,” he says. “He wrote about the many differences in the different cultures in New Mexico. He wanted to bring all the cultures together through his writing.”

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