Texas Tech University

School of Theatre & Dance to Hold Marfa Intensive

Cory Norman

July 22, 2019

The experience focuses on devised theater and culminates in student performances.

The Texas Tech University School of Theatre & Dance and the School of Art, both housed within the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts (TCVPA), will hold The Marfa Intensive July 28 through Aug. 8. A free public performance of the devised theatrical piece and an exhibition of the new artwork will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the Crowley Theatre, located at 98 S. Austin St. in Marfa.

Now in its fourth year, The Marfa Intensive is an unforgettable experience in learning and creating devised theater while considering the relationships between theater and visual art. Devised theater is the act of originating a new, ensemble-built work that does not depend on a previously written text, but rather starts with an "invitation to obsession" called a hunch. The hunch for this year's intensive is "transformation."

Under the direction of Rich Brown, professor and award-winning director/deviser from Western Washington University, theater students will follow his yearlong model for devising in an abbreviated, 11-day intensive workshop. Theater students will research, create, rehearse and perform a devised work based on the idea of transformation using Marfa and its environment as a backdrop for creative exploration and inspiration.

Marfa Intensive 2018
Marfa Intensive 2018

Guest artists for this year's intensive are Gary Garrison, an award-winning playwright and former executive director of creative affairs for the Dramatists Guild of America, and Shannon Robert, an award-winning set designer and professor from Clemson University. This summer, the intensive will again host three theater students from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

TCVPA professors Heather Warren-Crow and Cody Arnall will work with art students in the creation of sculpture, installation and performance art. Site-specific and deeply engaged with the landscape of Marfa, the artwork will be informed by philosophies of nature, the rich history of environmental art and the research of guest speaker Jesse Kelsch, a geology instructor from Sul Ross University.

Mark Charney, director of the School of Theatre & Dance and the executive director and creator of The Marfa Intensive, describes the theater-making experience as "loosely following the O'Neill National Theater Institute's Theatermakers Summer Intensive format, not in content but in intensity."

"Theater students will work from 9 a.m. each morning until 10 p.m. each evening, purely in the act of making and devising theater," Charney said. "We will challenge the students, encouraging them to traditionally and creatively embrace the act of invention and intuition. The schedule varies, but we will visit all of the art installations, meet the people of Marfa and work together combining art and theater to produce a show that explores the hunch this year of transformation."