The bees in her bonnet

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Jan. 28 – Fundraising fights during legislative sessions, partisan squabbles and debates over redistricting maps might seem normal when it comes to politics or even some kind of board game. But the general public isn’t always aware of how politics can undermine friendships between lawmakers.

New Mexico Senator Bill O’Neill wrote a one-act play about it, Save the Bees, which centers on two friends from opposite sides of the political spectrum trying to reach the other side of the aisle. on issues at a time of divisive political climate and heat from their respective bases.

“This piece has a lot of humor, but at the same time it’s very serious,” O’Neill said in a statement. The senator’s career as a man of letters began with his introduction to the works of novelist EL Doctorow (Ragtime, Billy Bathgate), who became his literary hero while O’Neill was attending Cornell University in the 1970s .

Now a political novelist, poet and playwright, O’Neill’s has published several books, including Panoramic Diaries (Red Mountain Press, 290 pages, 2020) and the sequel, Short Session (Red Mountain Press, 162 pages, 2021). A native of Granville, Ohio, O’Neill ran a halfway house in Albuquerque before heading the state’s juvenile parole board. In this role, he was introduced to lawmakers during New Mexico’s legislative sessions. “Smitten, I was, being in the Roundhouse,” he told the Santa Fe New Mexican last year (“The New Mexico novelist is busy making laws,” Santa Fe New Mexican, January 19, 2021).

Teatro Paraguas (3205 Calle Marie, teatroparaguasnm.org) features a staged reading of Save the Bees at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 28, with additional readings at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 29 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 30. Reservations can be made at 505-424-1601. Buy tickets (a suggested donation of $15) at sfnm.co/save-the-bees. Proceeds are donated to Harvest Ministries of Roswell, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing homelessness and food insecurity.

The play, directed by Duchess Dale, features actor Geoffrey Pomeroy as older, urban, liberal Senator Chapman Murphy and actor Noah Segard as younger, rural, Conservative Senator Luke Becker. The action involves a candid conversation in an empty legislative chamber about their respective pasts, their friendship, their constituents, and the issues that caused a rift between them.

State Senators O’Neill and Cliff Pirtle will be on hand for a discussion after each performance. Masks and proof of vaccination required.

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