This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture and education.
Texan Margo Jones revolutionized American theatre. At a time when few professional drama companies existed outside New York, Jones fought for regional productions and new voices. Her enthusiasm earned her the nickname the "Texas Tornado" and led Tennessee Williams to describe her as a combination of Joan of Arc, Gene Autry, and nitroglycerine.
Born in Livingston in 1911, Jones trained in Denton and Dallas but soon learned that professional theatre opportunities were limited to New York and Los Angeles.
Jones spent time in those cities but returned to Texas determined to create the best theatre in America. She said, "I saw no reason why I couldn't have it in Houston." She soon proved to be one of the nation's most promising young directors. She championed young playwrights such as Tennessee Williams, Jerome Lawrence, and Robert Edwin Lee and directed the premieres of The Glass Menagerie and Inherit the Wind.
In 1947, in Dallas, Jones founded America's first modern professional resident theatre, which in turn launched the regional theatre movement throughout the nation. Hers was also America's first professional theatre-in-the-round, using minimal sets on a stage surrounded by the audience.
Jones died in 1955, just as her dream of a decentralized American theatre came to fruition. Today, strong regional theatre companies continue to thrive throughout America.
More information about Margo Jones and other Texas Originals is available at Texasoriginals.org. This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.