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Sweet Tornado: Margo Jones and the American Theater

Although few know her name today, theater producer-director Margo Jones left a rich cultural legacy. During the 1940s and ’50s, Jones – nicknamed the “Texas Tornado” for her larger-than-life personality – pioneered the regional theater movement, championed the work of new playwrights, including Tennessee Williams, and crusaded against the commercial domination of New York theater. But despite her idealism, energy, warmth and salesmanship, Jones struggled with loneliness, frustration and doubt. Her untimely death at age 43 came just six months following her triumphant world premiere of the play, Inherit the Wind.

Sweet Tornado: Margo Jones and the American Theater captures the remarkable life and times of this American visionary by weaving together theatrical representations and excerpts from three plays with interviews, archival photographs and rarely seen film footage. The powerful performance documentary, narrated by Academy Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden, stars Judith Ivey as Jones and Richard Thomas as Williams.

Production credits: Co-produced and directed by Kay Cattarulla and Rob Tranchin. It first aired in 2006 on PBS stations across the country.

• Visit the program website for more about Margo