Mora County Notebook - A celebration of the Mora Valley

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By Ruth Fort

Recently, Theaterwork of Santa Fe presented the production “Where Angels Come to Sing: A Celebration of Mora Valley.”

This production was presented by Mora High School students who worked with David Olson and his staff for a year, gathering stories from the past and present. These are stories of people of the Mora Valley who have walked in this beautiful place for centuries and who walk here today and will walk in the years to come.

A year ago, Olson came to Mora. He realized the potential of the project when Mora High School English teacher Rene Moody took a busload of students to see a production of Antigone by Theaterwork.

Olson visited the high school and presented a plan, which included the gathering of stories and lessons to be learned from them. He also included an acting production that would provide another learning experience. And this was to be presented to the community.

With this plan, Mr. Olson and the Theaterwork staff began the larger project of “Memorias de Mora.”

Olson trained students in the art of interviewing to get stories from different people. Students were also taught the ins and outs of putting on a production.  

With the Mora High School staff and students’ enthusiasm and hard work hundreds of stories were collected. The stories illustrated hard work, resilience, generosity, great imagination, courage, hope, good humor and a sense of reverence — all emerging from the landscape of the beautiful Mora Valley.

On Dec. 3, the group presented “Roots & Wings A Call for Stories” at the Mora High School Gym. The production featured 20 youth telling the stories they had gathered in a very dramatic way. They had the assistance of the artistic staff and special assistance from the Santa Fe based company. In spite of a big snowstorm, the gym was filled with enthusiastic parents and community members.

The production last weekend in Santa Fe at the James A. Little Theater had been in the making for a year.

Olson, the company’s   artistic director, wrote the script based on stories gathered by students. It was a very emotional experience for some as they visualized the people and the meaning of angels singing in the rivers, forests and old abandoned homes, where life was rich and good in the past. The place is never silent with the singing of the river, the wind in the trees and the abandoned adobe homes. These are the angels singing in the valley.
There were five vignettes featured in the program: The Storytellers Gather in the Valley!; Home — Where the Angels Come to Sing; Roots — Stand in the Fragrant Pines!; Wings — The Dazzling Wind Carries Us!; and The Call — With These Hands!

Six high school students took part in the performance. They did a fantastic job as they stood before the large audience on a professional theater stage on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. They showed poise and assurance as they performed their parts.

Those who participated were: Jeremy Medina as Jerico, Melissa Montoya as Luna, Angelica Aragon as Aurora, Isaiah Cordova as Mercurio, Analisa Chavez as Rosalba and Alexis Armijo as Corazon. Music was by Alex Martinez.

Many other students and staff worked with the production staff to put on the production, which ran for 75 minutes.

We are happy to know that our own Sharon Stewart from Chacon played a large part in the graphics, with a 95-frame video of her photos that depicted the feeling and emotion of the area in the singing of angels in Mora Valley. It was shown before and after the performance.

There were also 11 of her framed photos on display in the reception area.

Her photo looking through the window of an abandoned adobe home on Quemado Road in Chacon was used in the advertising brochure and the cover of the program.  

Olson praised her for the presentation of the photos and for her ability to produce the right images conveying the feeling of the area.
Ruth Fort is a Mora County correspondent. She may  be reached at (575) 387-6523 or ruthfortchacon-@yahoo.com.