Marfa’s first Fringe Festival kicks off this weekend

At Fringe Marfa, Ad Hoc Economy will kick off its tour of “Butcher Holler Here We Come.” Photo courtesy of Fringe Marfa.

MARFA, TEXAS – The inaugural Fringe Marfa two-day festival will take place this Friday and Saturday and vows to offer a fresh, independent theater experience.

“Fringe is essentially, in my mind, a punk theatre festival,” Hope Lafferty, Fringe Marfa’s founder and key organizer said. Independent actor/creators will come together to not only perform their work but to also create.

Friday programming will be full of solo acts, while Saturday will include ensemble acts in many different mediums including dance, physical theater, drama, comedy and more.

Fringe began in Scotland in 1947 when eight theater companies arrived uninvited to the Edinburgh International Festival and took over smaller, unconventional venues to perform their acts. Fringe was later formally organized in 1959 via the creation of the Festival Fringe Society in Scotland, which directly supports the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Fringe Marfa is an unjuried festival. “This is not usually how Fringe is run,” she said. “Fringe is usually juried, lots of applications.” This is the inaugural year, though. “Who’s going to jury anyway?” Lafferty joked.

Additionally, Lafferty added, most Fringe festivals are bigger and use more venues and have more acts, whereas in Marfa there will be a single stage. No one is competing for the time or the attention of the audience.

On Saturday, a panel will discuss the history of Fringe more in depth at 2 p.m. during the “Fringe Theatre for the Uninitiated and the Curious” discussion. Panelists include Grant Knutson (Minion Productions, Seattle, WA), Rhianna Basore (Self Trust Fund, Santa Fe, NM), Alec Williams (Renegade Productions, New York, NY) and Todd Blakesley (San Diego International Fringe Festival, San Diego, CA). The event will be moderated by Lafferty.

There is a tradition that the acts are uncensored, and there are some acts that Lafferty hasn’t seen yet.

Is this family friendly? Well, that depends on your family, Lafferty said. The festival’s acts may not be appropriate for people younger than teenagers, she said. “I want everyone to come to everything – it’s why I designed it the way I did.”

“I would love to expose all the young people to the work that we’re doing here. I’ve opened this up to every high school student in the area,” she said. If you’re a student and want to attend for free, you can email Lafferty and she will set you up with credentials to attend.

As far as youth participation goes, a team of cousins in town that sell rocks will have a table in the Paisano Hotel during the festival. The kids collect rocks on their property and sell them to help fund their future education.

The headliner on Saturday, Ad Hoc Economy, is using Fringe Marfa to kickoff a tour of “Butcher Holler Here We Come.”

“‘Butcher Holler Here We Come’ is a show about a bunch of coal miners after a collapse and the only staging they are using is their headlamps,” Lafferty said. “It’s an exploration of masculinity.”

Lafferty moved to Marfa in 2009. She was a performer when she was younger, but then went to college and became a psychotherapist. She made a switch to radio, worked in high-tech in Austin for a while, and then lived in New York working as a writer for almost a decade. Lafferty is an essayist and has written a memoir. “Because of my clinical experience, my day job was working in a research hospital.”

“This is a career change,” she said.

About four or five years ago, she started studying acting at Sul Ross. Then she moved to D.C. for six months to study with peers and began writing plays and fell in love with the process. She was accepted into the Kennedy Center Playwriting intensive. Upon returning to Marfa, Lafferty created a theater company in 2018 called the Dresden Collective with the help of some of her friends from Sul Ross.

Lafferty says she doesn’t know what to expect this weekend: “All I know is that my acts are coming, I’ve got a core group of really enthusiastic supporters who will be in attendance, and there are four reporters from Dallas coming down.” As far as next year goes, Fringe Marfa will be testing the “null hypothesis.” “If it works this year, we will do it again. If it doesn’t work this year, maybe we’ll do it again in five years,” she said.

Lafferty suggests buying your tickets in advance if you plan on attending this weekend and coming with a good sense of humor and patience. You can purchase your tickets and find a full lineup of performances online at