March 19, 2019 Artist to Watch: Macy Jones
On the Theatre and How Lives Are Changed Through Meaningful Performance
Macy Jones is an energetic voice and new addition to the Red Magnolia Theatre Company. She’s also a recent PhD graduate, who brings a wealth of knowledge of the Federal Theatre Project, theatre history, directing, and writing chops to the table. She’s a delight to read and we were fortunate to be able to get to know her through this interview. We talk about Baton Rouge, the theatre opportunities in town, balancing life as an artist and a scholar, life changing movies and performances, and the people that lift you up in your journey.
When did you first take interest in theatre?
I knew at age 9 that I wanted be a "theatre person.” When I was little, my parents used to take me to a touring show of A Christmas Carol every Thanksgiving. From that first show knew I wanted to run away to join the theatre. I always volunteered for school/community/church plays to get my theatre fix. I’m grateful my parents encouraged me to pursue my passions (except for the running away part)! Theatre has been a constant in my life. It’s how I interact with the world.
I learned fairly quickly that I am not an actor. I get too much in my own head and can’t connect my thoughts with my body— particularly my limbs. I’m a director, and playwright, a dramaturg, and theatre historian. My real aptitude it based on the text and its criticism/analysis.
Who were your early influences?
My first mentor, Dr. Ardith Morris, showed me how to balance my life as a scholar and an artist. She taught me how to be a director: how break down a script, how to work with actors, and how to remain the calm center of the universe when your actors and your designers are at their most frenetic. She also encouraged me to engage with my research and own my arguments.
Who do you look to now for inspiration?
I was fortunate to have Dr. John Fletcher as my dissertation advisor. He not only helped me to find my writing “voice” he also inspires me to pursue my research goals with integrity and enthusiasm. He told me early in my doctoral studies to write my dissertation about something I love because at some point in my journey that love will be the only thing that will keep me going. He was right, and I try to apply that same principle to every aspect of my life.
How did you decide to pursue your doctorate?
It started with a movie. I watched “Cradle Will Rock “ (1999) and it changed my life. The film is about the Federal Theatre Project, which was a Great Depression-era relief agency within the Works Progress Administration. After I watched it, I devoured as much information I could find. I went to Ardith with no idea what to do with all this knowledge, and she told me I could always get my PhD and become an actual expert of the Federal Theatre. She may as well of told me I could be Princess of the Moon; I had no idea that kind of career path was real for me. I listened, and 17 years later I defended my dissertation— over the Federal Theatre Project.
How do you feel about the opportunities in Baton Rouge?
Baton Rouge has a vibrant, committed arts community. My time in doctoral studies required a certain amount of isolation, so I wasn’t able to be a part of it outside of LSU. Since I’ve graduated, however, I have been amazed at the reach and offerings of the community theatres here.
How are you enjoying the first season of Red Magnolia Theatre Company?
It’s been amazing. Our very first show was a huge success and was also personally fulfilling for me. Our Readers Theatre Series is very exciting, and we’re growing our company of actors and designers. I love getting to work with the women of Red Magnolia Theatre Company. Their drive and vision is inspiring; I am so fortunate that they asked me to be apart of their movement.
What has the response been like from the community?
The response has been phenomenal. We nearly sold out our first show last October, and every day we are getting more and more people wanting to get involved. One of the amazing things about doing theatre in Baton Rouge is the city is big enough for so many theatres. We’ve been welcomed with open arms by not only the community at large, but our fellow theatres as well. The support for what we are doing is humbling and beautiful.
What upcoming events/productions do you have?
I’m directing a staged reading of 12 Angry Men (Performed by 12 Impassioned Women) with Red Magnolia. We’re performing it twice: our first performance is on April 6 @ 4pm on the Poet’s Pier Stage during the Ebb and Flow Festival. We are performing it again at Brew Ha-Ha the next evening for a smaller, more intimate, audience. Red Magnolia is also producingMotherhood Out Loud for our Mother’s Day Dinner Theatre. I’m serving as the production manager for that show. Michele Johnson is directing. My next directing project is a year out; I’m directing the regional premiere of Lucas Hnath’s A Dolls House: Part 2 for Theatre Baton Rouge’s 2019-2020 Season. I’m also working on a few new plays for submission contests.