Play written by Portales native showing at ENMU

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

In more than one way, Leonard Madrid has come home.

The Portales native, now a graduate student at the University of New Mexico, is the author of Eastern New Mexico University’s current showing, “Perla de Luna.” Also, the play gives him a chance to return to Portales every time it’s performed, regardless of the stage.

“I would like to have (audiences) leave with a picture of my hometown,” said Madrid, a 1993 Portales High grad. “The idea was that I set this play on my grandparents’ front porch. The idea is they leave with an idea of what Portales might be, because as far as I know nobody’s ever written a play set in Portales, New Mexico.”

Performances continue at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday at ENMU’s Theatre Center.

“It deals with a young woman’s search for her father who is a famous Norteno singer,” said ENMU theater professor Felipe Macias, who is directing the show. “The play is written in a magic realism style, so she searched for her father in her dreams.”

Macias first became familiar with the show at a Kennedy Center American Theater Festival meet in Tulsa, Okla. It was there he ran into Madrid, his former student at ENMU. Madrid said the familiarity helped when he worked with Macias and his crew to perform the one-act play at the festival.

“There are a lot of things he inherently knows from the script and the dialogue that I don’t have to explain to him,” Madrid said. The play earned Madrid a share in the award for the festival’s best Latino playwright.

The play now includes a second act and is being performed at ENMU for the first time in its completed status. Madrid is happy to be able to showcase it.

“It was just a great script. The language Leonard writes is very clean, a very witty language. I liked the cultural aspect of it.”

Madrid said the play, which translates to “pearl of the moon,” uses Perla’s subconscious as a way for her to find what she needs but cannot reach in the conscious world.
“Really, the inspiration was the idea of holding something precious. That was the initial idea, a family drama centered around someone who was unhappy. It had to do with inner searching.”

Macias said one of his favorite aspects of the play is that it shows real Hispanic characters with real problems, but doesn’t seek to simple equate problems into terms of Hispanic versus white. He’s also happy he can bring such a message from Madrid, a 1997 ENMU graduate.

“It’s an indication we’re doing our job,” Macias said, “and that people are successful in their field, a very difficult field to establish yourself into.”

What: “Perla de Luna”
When: 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday
Where: ENMU Theatre Center