For Margo Hall, growing up in Detroit, Michigan meant an early exposure to the arts. Enrolled from a young age in “every dance class” and “every choir,” she says, and influenced by her Motown-employed stepfather and his circle of musician friends, Hall gained a strong foundation in the arts—even before she knew that she’d wind up dedicating her life to them.
Recently announced as the new artistic director for the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, Hall brings a lifetime of learning, skill, and dedication to the role. And as the first woman to hold the position in the company, she’s ready to implement her vision of a program dedicated to nurturing the voices of young, Black female and non-binary playwrights, a welcome homage to the theater’s namesake.
Described by biographers as a “force of nature,” Lorraine Hansberry’s legacy lives on, despite the playwright and activist's tragically early death from pancreatic cancer at the age of 34. One of those legacies has been carried forward in the form of the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, founded in 1981 by Stanley Williams and Quentin Easter, who were determined to build to build an artistic home for Black theater-makers. And while the theater has experienced a series of material setbacks over the years—losing its Sutter Street space in 2007, and its founders within weeks of each other in 2010—its influence as an incubator for Black artists has remained intact.
One such artist is Hall, the Bay Area’s own force of nature. Although this will be her first time in the role of artistic director, it’s certainly not her first time creating and holding artistic space, a talent she’s cultivated over the course of many years—particularly with the long-running theater collective, Campo Santo.
It’s with Campo Santo that Hall first made the leap from acting to directing, in a 1998 co-production with Word for Word. Although she was initially reluctant, her fellow company members (“my brothers,” she remarks fondly) talked her into it by telling her, “You tell us what to do all the time anyway, so you might as well just direct this play.”