‘Magic and Monologues’ – a virtual Marfa Live Arts holiday event

MARFA — Marfa Live Arts’ “Magic and Monologues” playwriting showcase goes live tonight, Thursday, December 17, at 7 p.m. on Zoom, with professional actors performing monologues written by Marfa students over a weeklong workshop taught by Marfa Live Arts.

The award-winning Marfa Junior High writers who will have their words brought to life are: Ava Flores, Kassandra Garcia, Amaya Gomez, Amber Hinojos, Diego Jurado, Sara Salgado Martinez, Katana Melendez, Ayven Pippen and Isaiah Ramos.

Opening the show this year is Mago Krypto, a Guadalajara-based magician, who will wow the virtual audience with a selection of his best card tricks. Among the roster of actors performing student-written work is Alpine-based actor David DeLaO, whose credits in the entertainment industry includes the recurring role of Diego on the hit AMC series “Better Call Saul,” Arturo on the USA series “The Purge,” and roles in upcoming feature-length films, “The Marksman” (starring Liam Neeson), and “Silk Road.”

“It’s cool to help out the kids,” said DeLaO of working with Marfa Live Arts. “It’s a great opportunity for them. It’s one thing for them to write, but seeing their work come to life is a different thing. It shows them that they can do this if they want to.”

For DeLaO, the fact that he’s a working actor based in the tri-county area may also serve as an inspiration for students aspiring to work in the entertainment industry. “I think it helps the kids realize that they can be actors, writers, showrunners or directors no matter where you’re from,” said DeLaO, who has participated in several past Marfa Live Arts shows. “Working with Marfa Live Arts and the kids has always been fun. Those kids write cool characters with a lot of heart and it’s awesome to bring that to life,” he explained. “I’m glad we’ve found a way to keep it going despite coronavirus. I hope people enjoy it.”

Performing in both English and Spanish, Diego “Mago Krypto” Zenteno has been performing magic for over a decade, having found his calling at the age of eight while watching television. “The first time I saw magic was on a TV special. The magician was doing an act with a piece of thread and I ran to my parents and said, ‘I want to be a magician,’” he said excitedly. “I found a universe of tricks and secrets. It took me 12 years before I was able to perform a one-hour show.” Zenteno’s hard work and dedication, he added, has garnered him five first-place trophies in national magic competitions in Mexico, work with international companies such as Nissan and Coca Cola, and the ability to help found a magic school in Guadalajara. This year’s Marfa Live Arts showcase, he said, will add a bit of a challenge due to the ZOOM platform, but magic and art will nevertheless overcome the obstacles inherent in the format. “The thing I love about being part of this project, right now with the [coronavirus] situation, is to find out new ways to connect with the audience. One thing that’s beautiful about magic is that we can connect with people all around the world. It doesn’t matter the language or where you are,” he said. “The fact that I have to do magic for a camera and no live audience will be a different experience, but at the end, we can all feel that connection. It’s an amazing project and I’m excited to share my magic with you all.”

For Marfa Live Arts Director Jennie Lyn Hamilton, there is still excitement among the students despite the change of platform for this year’s show. “Typically, every year we award the winners and hit the stage of the Crowley Theater. We have dinner for all the kids, and they come early to watch the actors at rehearsal,” she said of past performances. “We usually have a big audience of teachers, families and community members. We’re hoping people will still join us tonight on Zoom. It’s an all ages, all-are-welcome event.”

The students’ work, she added, will make it worth registering and logging on. “It’s amazing seeing what happens when these kids bravely share their inner voices and tell us their stories, dreams and secrets, as well as tackle solving big problems and conflicts,” she said. This year’s addition of Mago Krypto, Hamilton said, will also add a little more excitement to the Marfa Junior High tradition. “With Mago Krypto, we wanted to add a little extra,” she said. “Everyone is tired of staring at the Zoom screen, so this will literally add some magic.”

Joining DeLaO and Mago Krypto in performing are Giselle Marie Muñoz, an Austin-based theater and film actor who co-founded the Austin Arthouse Film Festival; Austin-based playwright Raul Garza, who received the National Latino Playwriting Award for his full-length play, “Fantasmaville”; and actor Mindy Escobar-Leanse, whose credits include Henson Studios/PBS’ “Dinosaur Train Live! Buddy’s Big Adventure,” the UK and Japan tour for off-Broadway show “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” and “Puppet Titus Andronicus.”

Registration is required. For free tickets and reservations, visit www.marfalivearts.org.