Marfa Live Arts teaches this week at Marfa Junior High, performance coming soon

Marfa Live Arts lead instructor Rachel Tate teaches the Eighth Annual Playwriting Preparatory Course at Marfa Junior High this week. Performance of selected monologues will be February 7 at Planet Marfa. Photo by Tina Rivera.

MARFA –– Marfa Live Arts has geared up to once again help Marfa Junior High students flex their creative muscles with the Eighth Annual Playwriting Preparatory Program currently in progress at the school. The workshop with Marfa Junior High English teacher Jaylia Foster and Marfa Live Arts lead instructor Rachel Tate guides students through techniques and practices intended to teach, inspire, and motivate students to create dramatic arts monologues. A selection of these works will be performed at the annual Winter Theater Showcase using local actors on February 7, 2024, at Planet Marfa.

“The students always produce something unique and exciting. It always amazes me what they

come up with,” said Foster, who has been part of the program since its inception. “It is inspired by their life events and experiences and allows them to slow down to notice the stillness and silence as well as the everyday sounds of the people and nature around them. It really uses the five senses to help the students gain perspective and give an edge to what they are creating.” The program, Tate explained, focuses on monologue writing and gives the students a better understanding of telling a story from a singular perspective to help them delve into their inner selves. “Together we create our own lists of the things that we know to be true about ourselves and our experiences,” she continued. “By having a stronger foundation for knowing and celebrating who we are, we can then put that into what we want to write about. The stories we want to tell that come from a place of personal knowing. I’ve seen this add greater layers of truth to the pieces, and it can actualize itself in incredibly vulnerable or silly ways, depending on the person writing.”

For Foster, the program also gives students a way to escape from the normal routine of school while also allowing them freedom to dive deeper into themselves by giving them more freedom in introspection and creativity. “The approach to writing is so different that the students enjoy the change of pace exploring the flexibility of their voices and the piece’s open mindset structure. It’s not the rigidity of writing for a standardized test,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful that Marfa Live Arts provides a very special experience for our students. Not only does it allow them to express themselves in a unique way, but also gives the students a safe place to write, create and share.”

The students’ work, Tate says, not only helps the students, but gives a unique perspective

about Marfa itself. “The most important thing for me at the end of the day is being open to

whatever journey the writing experience takes the students on. We focus each day on not only writing but also getting greater insight into knowing the voices behind the words,” Tate said.” “I can see little lights of personal understanding ignite as they dig deeper into the stories that reveal insights into who they are and what they have to offer. I learn something new about the community by listening to the students. They have a unique insight into what makes this place work and are often backed by generational knowledge and histories that make up Marfa.

“Imagine being 13 and walking the streets of this beautifully strange place, the things that

you see and hear and are influenced by. I want to keep listening and am excited to allow the

opportunity for other members of the community to get to listen and lean in too.” 

As with all Marfa Live Arts/Marfa Independent School District enrichment courses, student

pieces are chosen by a jury and brought to life on stage, the production for which both Foster

and Tate are excited. “At the end of the workshop we have the very difficult task of choosing our top winners –– this is not my favorite part because they’re all so great –– and we will present their work at the Winter Theater Showcase with performances by local actors. It’s really wonderful and fun!” Tate said.

“I hope to see a lot of new and familiar faces turn out for our showcase. Last year, I was so touched to watch the faces of the students before, during and after they shared their work. They felt seen and heard and proud. Because of the intimacy of this town, we get to be a part of their experience and I think that’s a pretty neat opportunity,” she said.

“I always enjoy the performances and readings of the students’ material. I think that the

students enjoy it too. I’m also always curious about what approach and methodology Marfa Live Arts teachers are using; it provides a learning experience for me too,” Foster said of the

Playwriting Preparatory program. “I appreciate that Marfa Live Arts does this every year for our students. I think it provides a creative outlet and learning experience for the students and

myself.”

If you are interested in acting or production work, please email: [email protected]. For more information on Marfa Live Arts, visit www.marfalivearts.org.