An audience in Margo Jones Hall in the 1920s. Several members of the audience appear to be in costume. A 13-star American flag hangs from the right side balcony.
An audience in Margo Jones Performance Hall in the 1920s.

The Margo Jones Performance Hall holds great historical significance for both Texas Woman's University (TWU) and the broader North Texas region. Originally completed in 1921 as the Main Auditorium, this grand venue quickly established itself as the premier performance space in North Texas, boasting a seating capacity of 2,500—a size unmatched at the time. Its inaugural event, the graduation ceremony in May 1922, marked the beginning of a rich tradition. Throughout its storied existence, the auditorium's stage has been graced by an illustrious array of national and international artists, representing the finest talent in music, dance, literature, world affairs, and entertainment.

Among them: pianists Vladimir Horowitz, Artur Rubinstein, Artur Schnabel, Claudio Arrau, Alfred Cortot and Rudolf Serkin; composer John Philip Sousa (who also composed "Daughters of Texas" march based on the college's songs); opera divas Lily Pons, Helen Traubel, Patrice Munsel, Eleanor Steber and Risë Stevens; violinists Fritz Kreisler, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin, Nathan Milstein and Zino Francescatti; organist Alexander McCurdy, Marcel Dupré, Claire Coci, Virgil Fox, and David Craighead; dancers Ted Shawn and Martha Graham; the American Ballet Theater (ABT); poets Robert Frost, Carl Sandberg, Archibald Mac Leish, and Ogden Nash;  speakers Eleonor Roosevelt and Cornelia Otis Skinner; authors Edna St. Vincent Millay and Gloria Steinem; philosopher Will Durant, as well as myriad of other notable contemporary living performers, composers, dancers and artists. 

Alumna Margo Jones on the TSCW campus in 1946, sitting on a couch while smiling and talking with drama students.
Alumna Margo Jones working with drama students on campus in 1946.

In the 1980s, the university made a fitting tribute to one of its most distinguished alumnae by renaming the hall after Margaret Virginia Jones (1911–1955), known as Margo Jones. As an American stage director and producer, Margo Jones earned the moniker "The Texas Tornado" for her groundbreaking contributions to the American regional theater movement. Her introduction of the theater-in-the-round concept revolutionized the theatrical landscape. In 1947, she launched Theatre '47 in Dallas, establishing the first regional professional company and earning international acclaim. Eight of the plays she produced in Dallas went on to grace Broadway, where they were met with resounding praise and accolades from critics and theater enthusiasts alike. Margo Jones also played a pivotal role in nurturing the early careers of esteemed playwrights, including Tennessee Williams, considered among the foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.

Margo Jones Performance Hall photo taken from the second floor balcony after the 1990 renovation.
The Margo Jones Performance Hall after the 1990 renovation.

In April 1990, a transformative three-year renovation project, totaling approximately $7.5 million when adjusted for inflation, brought the performance hall into the modern era. This comprehensive renovation updated every facet of the venue, paving the way for three decades of captivating performances and events. Building upon this legacy, TWU has continued its commitment to excellence by investing in state-of-the-art systems and technologies since 2020. These ongoing efforts focus on refining the AV, lighting, rigging, and power infrastructures, ensuring that the Margo Jones Performance Hall delivers exceptional production capabilities. Today, the hall stands as an inspiring multi-purpose venue, characterized by exceptional concert acoustics, professional production tools and infrastructure, and a dedicated team of friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Page last updated 5:44 PM, June 29, 2023