Preston Jones Biography


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Preston St. Vrain Jones was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on April 7, 1936. His father, a former lieutenant governor of New Mexico, had been a professional military man who at one time had hoped for a career writing Western novels. Jones grew up in New Mexico, attending a Catholic boarding school for boys for a short time before he was graduated from high school in Albuquerque. After a brief period of military service, Jones entered the University of New Mexico, from which he received a bachelor of science degree in speech in 1960. He taught one semester in a high school in Tucumcari, New Mexico, before returning to the University of New Mexico to study drama for a year. During this period, he also spent some time working with the State Highway Department in and around Colorado City, Texas, which later became the model for Bradleyville, Texas, the setting of A Texas Trilogy.

In 1961, Jones enrolled in the drama department of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he studied with Paul Baker, nationally known as an innovative force in Southwestern theater. Baker quickly became, and remained, a major influence on Jones’s life and career; he asked Jones to join the Dallas Theater Center, where Jones continued his studies and worked with the theater’s professional company. While there, he married Mary Sue Birkhead, an actress and designer and then assistant director of the Dallas Theater Center. In 1963, the Dallas Theater Center transferred its academic affiliation from Baylor to Trinity...

(The entire section is 620 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Preston Jones grew up in New Mexico, although his name is usually associated with Texas, the setting of his series of plays A Texas Trilogy. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico in 1958, after which he taught briefly in high school before pursuing graduate studies in theater at both Baylor University and Trinity University, eventually receiving a master’s degree from Trinity in 1966. At both universities Jones was the student of Paul Baker, who was also the director of the Dallas Theater Center.

In 1960 Jones began acting at the Dallas Theater Center, and soon after he also began directing plays there. He remained with the Dallas Theater Center until his death in 1979. Jones lived with his first wife in Colorado City, a small town in west Texas that eventually became the fictional town of Bradleyville in A Texas Trilogy. Jones’s second marriage was to Mary Sue Fridge, the set designer at the Dallas Theater Center. She later designed the stage sets for A Texas Trilogy.

In 1972 Jones took charge of the Down Center Stage, the small experimental theater connected with the Dallas Theater Center. He tried to recruit regional playwrights to write for the group, and when he was unable to find enough material, he began writing scripts himself. This activity eventually resulted in A Texas Trilogy, which ran on Broadway for sixty-three performances in 1976.

The first play of the trilogy, The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia, takes its title from the name of the fraternal lodge that meets in a room on the third floor of the Cattlemen’s Hotel in Bradleyville,...

(The entire section is 689 words.)