Marfa Live Arts awards winning student playwrights

Photo: (by Marfa Live Arts) from lower left: 11th annual Marfa Live Arts Playwright Winners: Hanna Evangelina Ibarra, Tristan Kelly, Febi Brimhall, Maribel Meraz, Ashley Certain, Victoria Torres and Zaley Porter. Not pictured Austin Mulligan.

In the week before spring break, all Marfa High School students participated in the 11th annual Marfa Live Arts Playwriting Program. Taught by Juarez-born playwright Georgina Escobar, Escobar shared her thoughts on teaching Marfa’s youth: 

“I was honored and humbled to return to Marfa High School this spring for their 11th annual playwriting conference. Reading their work — the results of a fast and furious bake-off challenge inspired by place, time and heightened genre — reassured me that the imagination of the Marfa High School students is indeed alive and well. It is incredibly difficult for writers and students to realign themselves creatively after the tumultuous times of a pandemic and all of the real-life consequences that have come from that. We are seeing more and more that isolation went beyond just the pandemic, and theater has always remained a place that can foster community or, at least, drive a conversation towards that end. This is why I decided to do a bake-off challenge with the students where the ‘ingredients’ that would give their plays a uniformed aesthetic while pushing their creative boundaries varied from a horseshoe to a train whistle and the student-selected ingredient: chicken strips. The purpose of the challenge, inspired by award-winning playwright Paula Vogel, was to try to reinforce the importance of a frontera aesthetic and the unique voices that individuals from this region have.” 

Escobar continues, “The results were plays that varied in form, genre, and voice. We had plays in Spanish that were poetic and robust and theater-forward, imagining an entire story as told in sign language and with elevated use of theatrical form. Others told the story in the form of dreams, invoking the surreal and provoking realism in a fun and quirky way, or reclaimed a Greek tragedy through a coming-of-age socially relevant narrative, or even reimagined a post-apocalyptic Marfa as seen through a rom-com lens. This year, I was very proud of the students who pushed themselves so fiercely and bravely into this challenge and hope that they come out remembering that the only way to change the things we want to change in the world, our circumstances, or ourselves — is to first engage the process of imagining and of ‘What if…’” 

Marfa Live Arts is proud to announce the winning 2021 student playwrights. Freshmen: First Place, Zayne by Austin Milligan; Honorable Mention, Sightless by Ashley Certain. Sophomores: First Place, You Can What?! by Tristan Kelly; Honorable Mention, The Topology & Zeitgeist Bake-Off by Zaley Porter. Juniors: First Place, The Gone by Maribel Meraz; Honorable Mention, The Crow’s Daughter by Victoria Torres. Seniors: First Place, Margaret, I Think I Love You by Febi Brimhall; Honorable Mention Nadando en las Estrellas (Swimming in the Stars) by Hanna Evangelina Ibarra. The first-place winners will have their works staged and brought to life by community actors at the Crowley Theater in April.

The Playwriting Program is supported by Wyatt Ranches Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts and Marfa Education Foundation. In its 11th year, the annual Marfa Live Arts program has resulted in over 925 one-act plays written by Marfa students. More information can be found at www.marfalivearts.org.