Memory Tricks

Institute History


MEMORY TRICKS is the tragicomic story of Margo, once a sought after Puerto Rican exotic dancer, and her relationship with her daughter Marga.

In the early 1960's, in an ostentatious little house sandwiched in by tenement buildings in Manhattan, Margo and her husband, Willy, a Cuban comedian and impressario, ask their only child, Marga, to choose her favorite parent. Marga chooses Margo with the understanding that her mother will take her on her first picnic in Central Park. The promise of the picnic assumes great importance in Marga's mind because she believes this day together will establish a bond between her and her self-absorbed mother.

The day of the picnic begins as Margo regales Marga with tales from her youth. Her stories include depictions of extravagant patio parties with Spanish show business celebrities, intricate beauty regimens, "lady lessons," and portrayals of her endless male admirers. The picnic concludes when eight year old Marga is crushed because her mother turns all her attention to a flirtatious park policeman.

MEMORY TRICKS continues with Margo in her second marriage as a suburban housewife in a white neighborhood, dyeing thirteen year old Marga's dark hair to red "just for fun." Margo also spends her time dressed to the nines waiting to go out with her second husband who always manages to stand her up.

We then jump to August 1983, where we meet an adult Marga living as far away from her mother as possible. Marga receives news that her father has died; she leaves San Francisco to attend his funeral in New York, deciding to phone her mother after not speaking with her for almost a year. Marga's stepfather answers the phone and informs Marga that Margo has fled to Paris; he concludes the conversation by offering Marga a round-trip ticket to find Margo. Marga heads to Paris and has a series of misadventures, fails to find her mother, and returns to California a month later.

Margo returns to her husband after a year, and in retaliation he sues her for divorce. She countersues and the proceedings go on for years. Margo begins to change. She becomes disoriented and starts to let her appearance go. Although Marga harbors major resentment toward her mother, Marga tries to help and returns to New York. The trip is short lived due to complications with Margo's attorney friends, and Marga returns to San Francisco feeling she owes her mother nothing.

A year later, Marga's half-sister calls her in San Francisco and tells her their mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimers.

MEMORY TRICKS ends in 1990 when Margo is in the middle stages of the disease. Marga has made several trips to New York trying to show her mother a good time. Despite her illness, they visit discos and Latin restaurants. The outings stop when Margo can no longer handle the activities. In a final blow-out at Long Island Park, a man makes lewd advances at Marga, and Margo mistakes his actions as interest in her. It is this moment that catapults Marga to break through her resentment and distance to finally see her mother's beauty and appreciate all they have left.


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