For ninety years, hundreds of thousands of adults and children have packed the KiMo theatre to watch ballet, drama, spoken-word, and to listen to poetry readings. Performers have acted, sung, danced, and spellbound audiences with magic. Local filmmakers flock there to watch their indie films come alive on the new silver screen. The KiMo continues to host movie premieres and vintage film festivals.
The KiMo Theatre boasts a broad spectrum of Facts, Fiction, and Folklore including newly-told stories, articles, memoirs, insights, opinions, never-before-heard remembrances, and researched facts about the KiMo Theatre as a performing arts theatre and a movie palace. This collection was written by people who, over the years, have developed and nurtured a loving, respectful relationship with the theatre. Past employees, elected officials, performers, and audience members share remembrances of the Bachechi family who built the theater, the theatre’s construction in 1927, the 1977 vote by Albuquerque citizens to buy and preserve the building, the theatre’s closings for renovations, its murals, art, and (and disputed) paranormal activity.
Here you will find passed-down family folklore and anecdotes that reflect the rich, flamboyant, and diverse cultural life inside the theatre, and the impact the KiMo has had on the lives of the people who have supported it for ninety years. These personal insights are a lens which reveals the broader and deeper story of the theatre.
Included is an account written by an Isleta Tribal elder about the relationship between Oreste Bachechi and Pablo Abeita, and a tale told by a man who first danced with his father on stage at the KiMo as a child. An author writes about her first visit and how she was charmed and intrigued by the KiMo Theatre’s ambiance. Teachers write about the impact of attending performances with students and parents. An article about a KiMo staff member whose work at the KiMo touched members of the Albuquerque community is an example of how life at the KiMo is not insular. One essay is the personal, tragic, but hilarious story that demonstrates occasional confusion when the name KiMo is spoken but not written.
Memories included in KiMo Theatre: Fact & Folklore have passed from one generation to a younger generation to today’s theatre-goers. Some early and present-day tales may be true, but others may only be true in the storyteller’s story. Some facts are still being researched.
Many of the photographs in this book have been preserved by museums, universities, the City of Albuquerque, and the KiMo Theatre itself. Their use was donated to SouthWest Writers for publication in this book.
The KiMo Theatre is more than a concrete building, more than a performing arts center, and more than a meeting place for friends. The KiMo Theatre is a symbol of the endurance of a dream. It is a living, breathing, growing part of Albuquerque, fully the sum of its historical, cultural, spiritual, artistic, and community parts.
—Jacqueline Murray Loring, April 2018