We had the good fortune of connecting with Margo Stutts Toombs and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Margo Stutts, what inspires you?
I am inspired by brave, creative people: folk who value collaborating and sharing.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been performing and sometimes making people laugh since I was a child, including singing “Green Door” on the playground when I was in the first grade. Theatre was my passion and major in high school and college until I saw one of my performances on camera. EEK! I changed my major to something more practical and dealt with a 6-month depression. The theatre-bug remained dormant until the summer of 2001. As part of my bucket list, I did a set for open-mic night at the Laff Stop in Houston, Texas. A lot of my friends came to the show to support my madness. Their laughter gave me a false sense of talent. After my stand-up comic success, I went on to perform at some cheesy venues, e.g., a sports bar and a no-name-joint near a Houston toll road – literally on the other side of the tracks. I was booed and hissed a few times, but I was told that this is the way to earn one’s chops (whatever that means). Performing at the Laff Stop started me down a creative path of no return. A writer friend in the audience that night connected me with the Fieldworks Performance Workshops as well as donna e. perkins and the Archway Art Gallery Readers. Through Fieldworks, I met jhon r. stronks, who became my performance collaborator and director. Together, we crafted my 60th birthday, one-woman show: Margo: 60 & Un-censored. One of the characters in my show, “the diva colon preparing for her day on camera,” was revived for the Houston Fringe Festival in 2009. “The Colon Show” won audience favorite during the “Anything Goes” weekend of the festival, and I was invited back to participate in the Fringe Festival of 2010. Other Fringe Festival pieces include: “What’s Eating Martha” (a madcap romp through the mind of a woman with an eating disorder) and “Margo, Rita and the Pee Pee Dress” (a travelogue of my 10-hour trip from Houston to the Woodlands when Hurricane Rita was “heading” for Houston). With the help of Neil Ellis Orts in January 2013, we performed some of my pieces in the FronteraFest in Austin, Texas. Other Fringe performances with videos are “Bitch is Ready for Tea”, “Meditation for Regular People”, and “Bananas” (what happened when I accidentally brought a banana into the US from Brussels). Humor is a gift. I refer to myself as an internal humorist – someone who makes people laugh on the inside. That covers me if my jokes/humorous stories fall flat. But since 2016, I have been writing and making videos about dangers to our democracy – “Antidote for the Wicked World We Live In”, “Ink Dancer”, and “What is the Virus? Really”. Some of my videos have screened at Film Festivals. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my vision with others.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Houston is a city full of opportunities for great art and food. Some of my favorite places to visit are: * The Midtown Arts and Theater Center for some artsy performances * Archway Art Gallery – (“Texas’s oldest artist-owned and operated art gallery”) to enjoy art or a special concert in the gallery. * The Alley Theatre – (The Tony-award winning, third oldest resident theatre in the US) to see some gorgeous, experimental plays. * Road trips to the beach are a welcome break from city life. For meals, I like little cafes and bistros. * MAGA” (no not that MAGA) – has the best Mexican food. All sauces are made from scratch. * Local Foods for the shrimp and blue crab sandwich with sides of kale and beet salads. *Snooze for a rock-star breakfast or brunch
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Many people and organizations have helped me find my creative chops. Nan Blackmon introduced me to the Archway Art Gallery Readers and Fieldworks in Houston, Texas. From these groups, I met two special artists, donna e perkins (visual artist) and jhon r stronks (choreographer and dancer). My work with Archway and Fieldworks led to participating in the Houston Fringe Festival for many years . Adam Castañeda, Executive and Artistic Director of the Pilot Dance Project, generously gives me the opportunity to perform in the festival on a regular basis. And I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to one of my favorite on-stage collaborators – Neil Ellis Orts. Neil is always up for a collaboration no matter how ridiculous!
Twitter: Margo Stutts Toombs @MargoStuttsToom