A Note from Regina Taylor:
The State(s) of America began with my being at Northwestern under the Hope Abelson Artist in Residence Program. I had a great time with the students and shortly afterward was invited to return. I thought a while about how I might engage with the students. I wanted the students to look at our world and where they stand on the issues that we face today. I challenged them to own their voice — create their own work in various mediums — on the “state of America”.
The students of Northwestern have more than met the challenge. They have created plays, films, interactive graphic art, stories, spoken word and devised pieces that hold up mirrors to these times.
Their work is probing, passionate and provocative.
The ten-minute plays are presented in three series.
Each play centers around a vehicle as the writers grapple with an America in transition — either stalled or on the move.
The “ID” series takes a look at the multiple identities within the American Melting pot from new angles.
The “Dreams” series explores the landscape of dreams deferred — from US soldiers on a life boat in Afghanistan to scientists in a submarine cleaning up an oil spill.
The “Becoming” series captures the desires of today’s youth facing the uncertainties of tomorrow.
I reached out — wanting cross campus dialogue — and Spencer Parsons in the Film Department and Marlena Novak answered by adding the State(s) to their curriculum. Spencer’s class created four short films for the Festival. Each film casts a keen eye on America at a crossroads — Marlena’s class created interactive graphic art that takes us through a looking glass of self-discovery and expression.
Lahkiyia Hicks and her fearless company of poets led the way into the festival with devised spoken word pieces alongside short story readings staged at Evanston’s Borders.
Alongside faculty the participants have been graduate and undergraduate students from theater to engineering majors — in dialogue — owning their voices.
It has been a year-long labor of love.
I thank everyone involved for their dedication, great heart and enormous talents.
MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT
Reflection is one of the Interactive Narratives from the Navigating the Narrative class, more info here.
Theatre and Interpretation Center
at Northwestern University presents
THE STATE(S) OF AMERICA:
THE REGINA TAYLOR PROJECT
Curated by Regina Taylor
Identity. Unemployment. Communication. Dreams. Race. Politics. Technology. From plays to video shorts to graphic narratives to songs, celebrated Hollywood actress Regina Taylor has partnered with Northwestern students and faculty members to create a fearless, one-weekend-only festival of original works. Through four different performances (“Dreams,” “ID,” “Becoming” and “Going & Coming”) presented in three venues, more than 50 members of the Northwestern community have come together in a personal, provocative and challenging examination of who we are as individuals, where America has been, where it is going and how we can own our voices to make a difference in the world today.
Purchase your all-access pass! Join us on Sunday, March 6, for lunch and an “Own Your Voice” symposium led by celebrated author and Northwestern Associate Professor Harvey Young, featuring guest artist Regina Taylor and TIC Artistic Director Henry Godinez. Immediately following the lunch, all four pieces will be presented in a one-day-only festival celebration!
With an impressive body of work that encompasses film, television, theater and writing, Regina Taylor’s career continues to evolve with exciting and challenging projects.
Taylor is best known to television audiences for her role as Lilly Harper in the series “I’ll Fly Away.” She received many accolades for her performance in the show including winning a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Taylor was most recently seen starring in the CBS hit drama “The Unit”. She took home the NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Drama” for her work on the show.
Regina made her professional acting debut on CBS in the movie “Crisis at Central High” and other television credits include the series “The Education of Max Bickford,” “Feds” as well as television movies “Strange Justice” playing Anita Hill, earning her a Peabody Award and Gracie Award, “In From the Night,” “Cora Unashamed,” “Children of the Dust,” “I’ll Fly Away: Then and Now,” “Howard Beach: Making a Case for Murder.” Segueing effortlessly between the big and small screen, Taylor has starred in blockbuster films alongside some of Hollywood most talented leading men. Her film credits include “The Negotiator,” “Courage Under Fire,” “A Family Thing,” “The Keeper,” “Clockers,” “Losing Isaiah,” and “Lean on Me.”
In addition to her film and television work, Taylor holds the honor as being the first Black woman to play William Shakespeare’s Juliet in Broadway’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Her other theater credits include “As You Like It,” “Macbeth,” “Machinal,” “A Map of The World,” “The Illusion” and “Jar the Floor.” In addition, she won the L.A. Dramalogue Award for her performance in “The Tempest” on the west coast.
Taylor not only feels comfortable on the stage, she is also an accomplished playwright. Her other credits as playwright include “Oo-Bla-Dee,” for which she won the American Critics’ Association new play award, “Drowning Crow,” (her adaptation of Chekhov’s THE SEAGULL, which was produced on Broadway by Manhattan Theater Club in its inaugural season at the Biltmore Theater and starred Alfre Woodard), “The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove,” “A Night in Tunisia,” “Escape from Paradise,” “Watermelon Rinds,” and “Inside the Belly of the Beast.”
Taylor’s critically acclaimed “Crowns” continues to be the most performed musical in the country. It is the winner of four Washington D.C. Helen Hayes awards including Taylor’s win for Best Direction as well as Best Regional Musical. Taylor’s play “Magnolia” premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in March 2009 directed by Anna Shapiro, Tony Award winner for “August: Osage County.” Taylor’s new trilogy, “The Trinity River Plays” premiere this season at as a co-production with the Dallas Theater Center and the Goodman Theatre in January.
Taylor is a member and Artistic Associate of the Goodman Theatre. She received the Hope Abelson Award from Northwestern in 2010. She received an honorary doctorate from DePaul University. She was raised in Dallas, Texas and recently moved to Chicago.
Photo: Ashley Fetters/The Daily Northwestern