Reclaiming Hell's Half-Acre

Site specific performance on a Texas gun range.

The eleven acre site of cactus and mesquite just south of Lake Worth is remarkably layered.  During the Cretaceous, it was part of Texas’ ancient shallow sea.  Until the late 19th century, it was a Comanche settlement. Up until ten years ago, it was home to the Ft. Worth gun club (before they shot through a neighbor’s kitchen window and were evicted). The ground is still largely covered with fossilized remnants of plants and bi-valves alongside arrowheads and bullets. Currently, this complex and heavily anthropogenic landscape is home to the Hip Pocket Theater who have staged original work outdoors under the direction of Johnny Simons for over 30 years.

The majority of the visible landscape is altered by a labyrinth of 10’ high man-made berms and derelict architecture left over from the gun-club. The water table has been poisoned from the years of lead seepage.  The landscape itself is largely treated as county property, though maps clearly show the area to be public parkland, a grandfathered status that can never be revoked according to Texas law.

With a team of artists from New York in a multi-week residency and with the help of the Hip Pocket community, our interest is in performing large-scale, community-based, and site-specific work with themes drawn from the landscape itself.  Each September since 2005, puppetry performances, processions, and films involving the community of Ft. Worth on themes ranging from mineral rights to the poetry of Pablo Neruda have been staged amongst the berms and junk piles to reclaim the land into a viable, anarchic site for uninhibited and borderline illegal artistic exploration.