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As soon as he opened his email account, Bill O’Neill knew he would pay for the vote he had cast against legislation aimed at saving bees.

The state senator’s fan base was outraged, wondering how he could have voted against bees.

“I got creamed,” he said.

O’Neill, an Albuquerque Democrat, had voted no on a bill that would have restricted the use of a group of pesticides harmful to bees called neonicotinoids after fellow Sen. Cliff Pirtle, a Roswell Republican, argued on the Senate floor they are less harmful to insects like lady bugs than other chemicals used in the agricultural industry.

The bill failed, enraging bee advocates.

O’Neill said Pirtle’s argument persuaded him, and he doesn’t regret his vote. But the reaction he faced made him consider the divisive nature of some of the issues he encounters in the state Capitol.

The point of the play is to question whether lawmakers can leave their allegiance to a political party at the door as they enter the House or Senate chamber to discuss and vote on legislation.

Bill O’NeillNew Mexico Senator

O’Neill has been frustrated for years by the lack of bipartisan cooperation in the Legislature. So the novelist and poet wrote a one-act play, Save the Bees, that chronicles the behind-the-scenes relationship between an older Democratic senator named Chapman — modeled after himself — and a younger Republican friend named Luke, who is based on Pirtle.

Teatro Paraguas will present staged readings of the play Friday, Saturday and Sunday featuring actors Geoffrey Pomeroy and Noah Segard. O’Neill and Pirtle will hold post-show discussions with the audience after each performance.

Set in an otherwise empty Senate chamber and replete with Greek chorus figures, the play centers on the question of whether the divide between the two men and their political parties can be bridged.

And if so, what price will they pay?