Bless Me, Ultima, a play written by Rudolfo Anaya, is based on his novel of the same name. Performances begin this weekend in Pharr.

Bless Me, Ultima covers the relationship between a boy named Tony and his grandmother, Ultima. From the moment of his birth, Ultima guides Tony through every duality he encounters. What will Tony become, a vaquero like the Márez side of his family or a priest and a farmer like the Luna side of his family?

His mother and father may wonder, but only Ultima knows. She guides Tony on long walks through nature and teaches the knowledge she has acquired about plants and herbs. As a curandera, she shows compassion for people suffering with illnesses. She teaches Tony that everything has a spirit, even stories.

Bless Me, Ultima, the novel, was selected as part of the Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. Professor Steven P. Schneider, director of New Programs and Special Projects at the University of Texas - Pan American College of Arts and Humanities, says, "I think it is wonderful that the Pharr Literacy Project is staging a production of Bless Me, Ultima. It is such a dramatic novel, with so many twists and turns, that it will be wonderful to see it performed as a play. As the Big Read program director, I am delighted that last year's Rio Grande Valley Big Read selection has been chosen this year for a dramatic production. The story has appeal both to our local culture because of the culturally relevant references to Mexican and Mexican-American folklore and universal appeal because of the main character's quest for understanding and wisdom. I am sure the audience will be in for a treat."

Producer Elva Michal of the Pharr Literacy Project and director Pedro Garcia are continuing their dedication to community theater.

The actors have tapped into the voices of the characters, and dancers will perform beautiful interpretations of the play's mystical elements. Armandina Sesin, Alex Gelman, Alejandro Arango, Arnold Flores, Anna Mardiros, Rigo Ordáz, Joseph Campos, Victor Alanis, Ivan Ramirez, Raul Lopez, Marcela Vazquez, Pedro Castorena, Alejandro Pacheco, Judi Chavez, Karli Scalise, Viviana Rodriguez, Dulce Roman, Daniel Roman, Lisa May, Sebastian Treviño, Rubette Flores, Emily de Anda, Allyson Champion, Cole Hammer, Andrew Valdez, Edward Mejia and Inocente Gutierrez all deserve mention as members of the cast. Arnold Flores also performs the duties of stage manager, and Alex Gelman is second director.

Carolanne Todd, Ruben Maldonado and Jeremy Shrouds are providing technical support.

Tickets are available at the Pharr Literacy Project Box Office for $6 each. Call the PLP Box Office at 956-783-7746 to inquire about a rate available for groups of five or more. If tickets are still available, they will be sold at the door one hour before performances. Bless Me, Ultima will have performances on March 26, April 9, and April 10 at 7:30 p.m. and March 28 and April 11 at 2:30 pm at the Historic Texas Theatre at 115 E. Park Ave., Pharr.