Featured BALLAST artist: Margo Gray

Margo and Georgette Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? Have you been involved with 20% Theatre in the past and, if so, in what ways?

I moved to the Twin Cities two years ago after working in Chicago for a number of years and then finishing my MFA in directing. I had the pleasure of working with Ballast playwright Georgette Kelly previously, on a workshop production of her play I Carry Your Heart. 20% was one of the first companies I heard about whose mission seemed exciting to me, and from our first contact, Claire was a positive force, welcoming me into the Twin Cities theatre community with open arms.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?

The world has gotten scarier recently, and one cause that’s become more important to me is finding ways to help people with privilege increase empathy and understanding of groups they don’t identify with. Art can sometimes slip past the defenses people have built up around their world view and privilege and work on an audience’s subconsciousness or emotions in ways that dispassionate discussion doesn’t.

What other artists or performances have inspired you over the years?

I lived in Russia for a while, and was very inspired by visually dynamic, physical, and highly imaginative work that was very different from the realism I’d seen in the U.S. The directors Kama Ginkas, Yuri Butusov, and Genrietta Yanovskaya particularly inspired me with the way they created striking, memorable images onstage and drew ideas out of classic texts I hadn’t seen before. The country has some real political challenges, but I found the artists I met to be generous, thoughtful, and open-minded human beings. Their adventures methods inspired me to think bigger in my own work.

Are you working on any other projects or are there others you hope to work on?

I’m part of a company called Playable Artworks that creates and curates interactive performance. Right now we’re developing a piece about well-meaning ally-ship, and we’re also working on creating opportunities for folks who create or work in interactive performance to come together and collaborate or share information. If that might be you, drop us a line! info@playableartworks.org.

When you’re not rehearsing for BALLAST, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

My partner and I are currently rehabbing a cabin in Minnesota’s Iron Range. We’re doing a lot of yard work, plumbing, and carpentry right now, but someday hope to get back to hiking and canoeing again.