Humans of Interest: Margot

I wish I had someone like Margot to direct my life.

It’s fitting that today, this popped up in my Facebook memories:

Failure: A Love Story was the first of the plays Margot directed that I got to see, and today I’m here to tell you about her as my Humans of Interest feature. What serendipity!

I first met Margot Bordelon in 2010, when Guy (who had not yet told me he loved me) and I went to Chicago with my family (I know, right?) on vacation. Margot is Guy’s sister, and she was there living her dream as a theatre director. I remember being surprised by how petite she is, in part since Guy is 6’4″ tall, but also because, based on anecdotal information from him, she was the dominant sibling, and I just imagined someone more physically imposing. Margot is not. She is, however, sharp-witted with a twisted sense of humor. I liked her right away, and not just because she suggested we go out for barbecue.

During our evening together, we played Apples to Apples and Margot unloaded gossip about the Chicago theatre scene, all the drama happening behind the scenes of the drama. She told us about her upcoming schedule, which made my head spin (and I’m sure it was light compared with her current life!) I remember being struck by how determined she was, how driven and dedicated. Margot is one of the first people I met who was actually pursuing her art as her job, or at least her main job. She seemed then (and now) to have a very clear view of her future life map. Maybe that is just what ambition is, and I don’t have much so it’s hard to recognize?

It wasn’t until 2013 that I really got to know what Margot was up to in her work. On the heels of earning her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Directing from Yale, she came back to Seattle to teach a class in directing at her alma mater, Cornish College of the Arts. At the end of the class, she got us tickets to see the final product. Failure: A Love Story is centered around a clock-making family visited repeatedly by misfortune in Margot’s beloved Chicago.

Still of Failure: A Love Story at Cornish; lifted from this website.

I remember liking the play, but loving the way Margot interpreted it. After seeing a full performance (even a student production) under her direction, I started to understand that, while I think of the theatre as a fun place for entertainment or thought provocation, for her it’s the office, and she means business.

Also, she’s very good at it.

I didn’t get to experience Margot’s work again until 2015, when Guy and I went to New York with his mom. Margot has been living there since graduate school, and so she took some time (mostly) off to play tour guide. Handily, our visit coincided with the run of a play she had been working on at the Yale Rep, peerless, a modern take on the Macbeth story, where M (Macbeth) and L (Lady Macbeth) are high school twin girls, each angling to outshine the other. I didn’t know what was about to hit me.

peerless by Jiehae Park, directed by Margot Bordelon. Photo by Joan Marcus, 2015.

By her own account, Margot loves a one-hour, one-act play. peerless fits that bill neatly, though I’m half convinced it only works because the dialogue ricochets around the stage at a breakneck pace. I seriously had trouble keeping up with the speed at which the actors threw their lines at one another. But after I got the hang of it, I was swept into the humor and absurdity, and found an even deeper respect for Margot—it had to be a ton of work to hone the production to such a high shine!

My favorite of Margot’s plays so far, though, has to be The Last Class: A Jazzercise Play. It was written by her Cornish PIC Megan Hill, who also plays the lead role. This is a teaser for the play, and it essentially shows everything leading up to the start of the action:

The play itself is literally a jazzercise class (with audience members participating in the exercises) during which you learn that the class is being canceled, and watch the instructor go through all five stages of grief about it. It’s funny and charming and relatable, and brought to life by the way it is staged. So good!

I did not mean for this to turn into an overview of Margot’s plays that I’ve seen. I meant to highlight the amazing person I know, the one who has to put unscheduled time on her calendar. I meant to say how I admire her fearless spirit, find inspiration in her endless persistence, and am wowed by the volume of projects she tackles and absolutely nails. I am beyond impressed at how she has thrown herself fully into her work, slightly jealous of all her traveling, and a little dazed by the sheer number of Google image results I got for her name. She has built such a rich and extensive world for herself that I hardly know where she is or what she’s doing at any given time, anymore.

This year, Margot directed four full off-Broadway productions. She’s already working on productions for next year. The last time we saw her, she was taking some time in Portland for herself before jetting to Colorado for a meeting, and then zipping over to Newfoundland to do research for an upcoming play. Her Facebook photos are red carpet event shots, and her posts are generally about the amazing feedback her work receives. It all makes me dizzy!

If nothing else, Margot inspires me to do more, by showing how hard work really can pay off, if it’s the right kind of effort. She is an example to me of how to live and breathe your art.

Featured image of Margot used with permission.