April 21, 2021 451 PM
MARFA – This week Marfa Live Arts’ guest playwright Octavio Solis teaches the 2021 Playwriting Program at Marfa High School. Solis’ work details and transcends the Mexican American experience with a focus on the Mexico-Texas border. The El Paso-native has written and directed over twenty-five plays (Mother Road, Quixote Nuevo, Lydia) that have been performed throughout the country, earning him the National Latino Playwriting Award and awards from the Kennedy Center, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Playwrights’ Center. Aside from his plays, Solis was a voice actor and consultant on Disney-Pixar’s COCO. His work on the film earned him the Imagen Award in 2018.
In its ten years at Marfa High School, the Marfa Live Arts Playwriting Program has resulted in over 1,000 plays composed by students. Students were asked about their experience taking this course. Senior John Aguero shared, “I used to have a hard time really expressing feelings, but the playwriting program gives us a way to get out of that funk especially now during COVID … to express things we normally don’t express. It really lets us be us instead of a random kid in high school. I think we all take the program on as a challenge. When I write my play it’s more personal. I try and go on more of an emotional level. I try and go into what I’m feeling. It helps me relax and de-stress because it lets me think about my feelings. It makes me feel better about myself … when I’m working with Marfa Live Arts it lets me be more of myself than usual. We are really excited about this week and we really enjoy how it’s done.”
Andrea Torres added, “I get super excited about playwriting because it’s something I’ve looked forward to. I look forward to the week of writing because it’s the only week I really get to express myself instead of someone else telling me what to write.”
Senior Clarissa Guevara reflected on her seven years of Marfa Live Arts programs including when she was an actor in Joan of Arc during sixth grade: “It really did something to me spiritually, mentally … it’s self-discovery, it makes you pay attention to yourself and others around you … I love Marfa Live Arts with all my heart. It’ll be forever something that is near and dear to me. I will remember it forever.”
Student Cristian Ontiveros has been involved with Marfa Live Arts through both playwriting and theater tech. “In seventh grade I was introduced to tech at the Crowley Theater with Rob Crowley. It was an awesome opportunity to see the plays play out with my fingertips because I controlled the light and the audio. It pushed me to do that more often, and I’ve picked up more gigs doing that.” In regard to his own plays, he shared, “My writing confidence has really grown since I first got involved with Marfa Live Arts. I have really explored how to write. Marfa Live Arts really provides a way for my creativity to be pushed. Without Marfa Live Arts I feel I wouldn’t be as creative as I am now.”
At the end of the program, one play from each grade will be awarded a prize and actors from the community will bring to life the words of these young playwrights. The 2021 Playwriting Program marks the first decade of the program. For more information see marfalivearts.org