Santa Fe-based puppeteers Ron and Laia Dans will present an hour-long interactive marionette show called Lady Blue. The performance traces the life of the visionary nun Lady Blue, whose real name was Sister María de Jesús de Ágreda. Lady Blue is purported to have "bi-located" — appeared in two places at the same time — more than 500 times to the Southwest from the confines of her cloistered convent in Agreda, Spain.
The Aztec Public Library and the New Mexico Humanities Council's Chautauqua program are sponsoring the performance.
"We chose this unique marionette performance because it goes along with the history of New Mexico in an unexpected but engaging way," said Angela Watkins, program director at the library. "It's also a good fit for this Easter time of year."
Lady Blue began having experiences at age 7 that sent her on out-of-body travels to a land resembling the topography and inhabitants of the Southwest, according to puppeteer Ron Dans. Lady Blue communicated with natives, offering gifts and spreading the message of Jesus Christ. Stories of her travels brought her to the attention of the townspeople, King Philip IV of Spain, the pope and the Inquisitors, who thought such claims were signs of devil worship.
Lady Blue later wrote "The Mystical City of God," a 3,000-page biography of the Virgin Mary inspired by visions she had during her trances. Her first confessor ordered her to burn the first draft of the book because writing was not considered proper for women. Lady Blue would later rewrite the entire book at the urging of the king, with whom she exchanged 600 letters over two decades.
Ron Dans, 69, was drawn to the story of the mystic nun by his wife, Laia, a theater professor in Barcelona who read about the convent's history and abbess in a magazine. The couple traveled to Agreda to see the preserved body of Lady Blue before they settled in Santa Fe to start their theater company, Puppets' Revenge.
"The general public loves this play because it illustrates the myths and history of the Southwest," said Ron Dans. "It's structured in several parts, beginning with a past lives therapy session that leads to subsequent scenes with hand puppets in the 17th century — a convent in Spain to the deserts of New Mexico."
Historians and scholars continue studying Lady Blue for her role in the building of Spanish New Mexico, Dans said.
The couple's performance involves 20 puppets they created, as well as moments when they step out from behind the stage, dressed as life-size puppets and interact with the audience.
"We stem from the European-style of theater that is more active," Dans said. "There is a lot of layers to the story to grab both kids and adults — with a lot of humor, too."
In one scene, Bill Richardson appears as a native New Mexican and Karl Rove stars as an inquisitor.
"I didn't get to play with dolls as a kid, so I'm making up for it now," Dans said.
James Fenton can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4621. Follow him on Twitter @fentondt.