August 28, 2019 809 PM
On August 24th, Marfa Live Arts hosted The 24 Hour Plays for the twelfth time to a crowd of nearly 100 at the Crowley Theater. As audience members arrived and took their seats, they had no idea what to expect. None of the plays they were about to see existed in the 24 hours prior to the performance.
While the all-nighter may be a rite of passage for procrastinating students, the concept is the key behind this wild night of creative mayhem. Twenty intrepid participants arrived at the Crowley Theater on Friday, August 23rd to meet with The 24 Hour Plays Marfa Live Arts producers Emma Rogers and Mallory Jones. Jones approached Rogers earlier this year and asked her if she would produce the program with her. Jones has been a resident of Marfa for over ten years and remembers The 24 Hour Plays as one of the best community activities she has participated in her early years in Marfa. This program left an impression on her and she described her experience as a “Marfa initiation.”
On Friday August 23, Rogers and Jones set out to produce The 24 Hour Plays, after a four year hiatus. That evening, as each person entered the theater, their polaroid was taken and put into a hat. Then everyone gathered in the main theater and encountered a stage full of surprising props that included a styrofoam number 5, a white stuffed llama, and an old bicycle. Volunteer writers, who had gathered from across the state to participate, then picked at random actors, a scene location and a prop. These components were the framework for them to get going on writing an original 7-10 minute play. After an hour-long production meeting writers including Ian Lewis, Ashley Swarts, Christopher Dyer, Robert Gungor, Clark Childers, Tilley Hawk, and Jonah Bell were sent into the night to write, with scripts due at 6am.
On Saturday at 8am, all actors and crew returned to the Crowley Theater where they received their scripts for the first time. After a production meeting with technical director Rob Crowley, actors were released to alternative rehearsal spaces around town. Between 9am and 6pm, actors learned their lines, rehearsed, blocked, and developed their characters. Meanwhile, prop masters and stagehands Tilley Hawk and Jonah Bell collected costumes and props sourcing from all over town: in the alleyways of Marfa, Marfa Museum Thrift Store, and from personal collections.
When time was up and curtain call came on Saturday at 8pm, five unique and never seen before performances hit the stage. This year’s plays explored themes of living in Marfa, tourism, interpersonal dynamics, and the wonders of life in the desert. Dance of the Postmaster written by Ian Lewis took place in the near future, inside a dystopian Marfa post office. Ari Leigh, age 9, performed as postmaster, alongside Hannah Machado performing as an ex-Chinati intern, and Philip Owen a post office clerk. We Are All Monsters co-authored by Ashley Swarts and Christopher Dyer, and performed by Tom Jacobs and Hope Lafferty, recounted an experience on Mimms Ranch in the setting of a living room through the eyes of two bizarre characters. Lost Llamas by Robert Gungor took on the subject of father-daughter relationships with frankness and humor. Sarah Machado and Joe Williams sat on either side of a stuffed llama-turned-therapist inside the Lost Horse Saloon-turned-therapy office. When It Rains It Pours,written by Clark Childers, was a play set inside of Stripes convenience store. Michael Camacho, Melissa Keane, and Dedie Taylor brought the dynamic scene to life. And when the styrofoam number 5 attacked Camacho, some audience members were convinced the prop was a real dog. Three Little Birds co-authored by Tilley Hawk and Jonah Bell took place near the railroad tracks in town, and involved a broken down bicycle and a couple of tourists imbibing spirits performed by CJ Stephens, Tex Toler, and Diff Torres.
For many of these participants, this performance was their first time performing or acting on stage. Under the guidance of the producers, actors took on the challenge in an encouraging and supportive environment. Jones taught them how to project their voices to the third wall, and gave them the tools for successful stage presence. Each participant was pushed outside of their comfort zone, but later told producers they would do it again. After the success of The 24 Hour Plays revival, Marfa Live Arts Associate Director Emma Rogers and Mallory Jones plan to co-produce the riveting summer event next year.