Marguerite Stimpson, Broadway actress and charming founder and co-host of InViolet’s popular Second Monday Socials talks backstage rituals, her introduction to InViolet, and the joys of working on the West End
InViolet: How do you identify in the theater world?
InViolet: Tell us about your journey as an InViolet.
Marguerite: Four years ago, one of my closest friends, company member Bixby Elliot, asked me if I would like to come to InViolet’s annual retreat. Coincidentally, my husband, Gerardo Rodriguez, was asked by company member Bernardo Cubria to come to that same retreat. So both Gerry and I were newbies at the same time. For those who don’t know, the annual retreat is an intense five-day period where we go to the woods and read a bunch of plays, cook meals together, and hang out late into the night. It felt like summer camp, and I loved every minute of it. Shortly after, we were asked to become company members, and I have happily been a part of InViolet ever since.
InViolet: What’s your favorite InViolet memory?
Marguerite: There are so many, so it’s hard to choose one! Bixby and I have organized a monthly event called Second Monday Social, and it’s open to both InViolet Theater members as well as anyone else. Our first Second Monday was so amazing because we weren’t sure if anyone would show up, and then so many people did, and it was such a wonderful night. I also have very fond memories of doing Erin Mallon’s production of BRANCHED at HERE. Erin’s writing is so sharp and funny, so the cast wanted to be sure we were on top of our lines. We got into a ritual of getting to the theater early and running them in the women’s dressing room every night pre-show. Some of my favorite memories are of hanging out in the dressing room with Andrew Blair, Michelle David and Tara Westwood and saying Erin’s very funny words.
InViolet: Our new event “Second Monday Social” is the beautiful brainchild of you and fellow company member Bixby Elliot. It’s a hit! And you two are delicious hosts! How’s this whole process been for you?
Marguerite: The whole process has been unbelievable. Second Monday has become my favorite night of each month. It’s been great to see how much people have embraced SMS, and that it has become a community in its own right. I think it’s a very simple formula, and that’s why it works: six writers are given the opportunity to have ten pages read, and we cast the pieces based on a pool of actors who sign in to read that night. The audience is incredibly generous and supportive. I’ve noticed our SMS folks are keen to laugh at the funny pieces, but are also very quick to respond to the more somber ones.
InViolet: You were in The Elephant Man on Broadway last year. Tell us all about it!
Marguerite: It was really a once in a lifetime experience. We were nominated for a Tony for best Revival of a Play, and three of our actors were nominated. We were also at the Booth Theater, where the original production of Elephant Man premiered. Watching Bradley Cooper’s process as he transformed into John Merrick was incredible. I had never experienced being in a show that was such a commercial hit- it didn’t hurt that a movie star was the lead! Our cast became very close, and the fact that we got to take it to London lessened the blow of our run ending on Broadway.
InViolet: You spent a few months performing in London last year too. What’s the London theater scene like?
Marguerite: We remounted Elephant Man at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. It was astonishing to be in this historical theater and to walk by all of the posters of shows that had been there. Apparently John Gielgud was so attached to the Haymarket that he slept there during the Blitz to watch over it. The London theater community was very inclusive and welcoming. There is such a long history and respect for theater in London, and I was constantly struck by that. It is similar to performing in New York, and yet theater has existed there so much longer, so you really feel as if you are stepping into such a long-standing tradition. I think there is less of a view of theater being a stepping stone to something else there- people really do dedicate their lives to the theater, and even the bigger names- like Ralph Fiennes, seem to return to do theater on a more regular basis. On my days off I would see as many shows as I could, and it was thrilling to do things like tour the Globe and be in the land of Shakespeare. Plus they serve ice cream at the intermissions!
InViolet: What’s up next for you?
Marguerite: I am doing a benefit reading at Shakespeare on the Sound on Friday October 28th of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. When Claire Kelly, the artistic director, asked me to do it and play the role of Cecily, she explained that although I wasn’t quite right age wise, it would be fun to see me do it. Since I never got to play Cecily in my ingénue days, I am thrilled to have a chance to play her for one evening. Cecily is the ingénue that got away!
InViolet: It’s the 1st week of fall. Pumpkin Spice lattes, yay or nay?
Marguerite: Oh I am boring! I basically just switch from my cold brew iced coffee to hot coffee at this time of year!