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TZAKBU: Queen of the Maya by Playwright Hiram Marina

TZAKBU: Queen of the Maya

Asheville Sister Cities Presents TZAKBU: Queen of the Maya

By Teryn Worsham

We find ourselves on an archeological dig deep in the jungle of Chiapas, Mexico, in TZAKBU: Queen of the Maya, a theatrical performance presented by Asheville Sister Cities and Palenque Rojo Theatre Company. Directed by Mexican playwright Hiram Marina and featuring actors from Chiapas, this play is about the roles of two important women in history: Queen Tzakbu and archaeologist Fanny Lopez. The performance features live music, dance, Mayan rituals, and song.

On the verge of a discovery, Fanny tells the crew she has the feeling they’re about to uncover the tomb of a queen. Her crewmates make fun of her womanly intuition. When the tomb is discovered and Fanny’s premonitions prove accurate, Fanny transforms into Queen Tzakbu and experiences life through her eyes. Through Fanny’s imaginings, the audience gets a glimpse of who Tzakbu really was—a queen, mother, wife, and governor of the Maya people.

Wife of a great governor named Pakal II, Tzakbu-Ajaw died in 672 A.D. In 1994, archeologists Arnoldo Gonzalez and Fanny Lopez found her sarcophagus, the first of a Maya woman to be found. She was buried in necklaces of jade, pearls, bone, and shells along with the bodies of two of her servants to accompany her to eternity. As was customary in Maya burials, Tzakbu was bathed in a red liquid metal called “cinnabar,” earning her the nickname “The Red Queen.”

Performances will take place at Western Carolina University’s Bardo Arts Center Theatre on Friday, September 30, at 7:30 p.m. and at Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville on Sunday, October 2, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

For ticket information for the performances at the Bardo Arts Center Theatre, call 828.227.2479 or visit For ticket information for the performances at Diana Wortham Theatre, call 828.257.4530 or visit For general information about the events, contact Gwen Hughes at or Lori Davis at

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