No urban theater initiative outside of New York can compare to the success, longevity and impact of the Black Ensemble Theater of Chicago. The driving force behind this national phenomenon is Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor – the keynote speaker for the 2nd Annual “CENTERSTAGE” – A Theater Workshop at IUPUI Saturday, April 22, 2023.
From her obscure upbringing in the infamous Cabrini Green housing project in the Windy City, Dr. Taylor rose to become a nationally distinguished director, producer, actress, educator, singer, playwright and pioneer in Black theater. Her keynote address will be at 2 p.m. in the Herron School of Art and Design, 725 W. New York St., hosted by the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (A.R.T.I.).
As the guiding force of the 40-year-old Black Ensemble Theater (BE), Dr. Taylor has created a strong institution committed to eradicating racism. Black Ensemble is recognized throughout the U.S. for its outstanding original productions and exceptional educational outreach programs. Speaking at CENTERSTAGE, she will share her story and lead dialogue on the critical role of Black theater.
The following are workshop sessions offered:
- “THE SHOW” – FOR PLAYWRIGHTS. Attendees will be instructed to create or select an original idea, develop it into a story called the plot, then create the characters, structure and spectacle (visual aspects) needed to tell and show to the audience.
- “THE ACTION” – FOR ACTORS AND DIRECTORS. Movement from beginning to end of the play/story is driven by the skilled actor’s body, voice and imagination, led and instructed by the director’s vision and skill.
- “THE LOOK” – FOR TECHNICAL AND ARTISTIC DIRECTORS. The aesthetic, sound, and visual design are factors that the audience member takes in through the senses of hearing, sight, feeling: set, costumes, lights, sound, properties, make-up, hair design.
- “THE BUSINESS” – FOR PRODUCERS. All of the factors that make it possible for a play to be presented to the public: Budget, fundraising, audience development, space, ticket sales, box office, house management, royalties, contracts, auditions, director, actors, etc. These responsibilities fall within the purview of the producer.
Includes a Bonus Dialogue: “THEATRE OF THE OPPRESSED/THEATRE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE.”
Sessions will run concurrently and will be repeated, allowing each participant to attend two of the topic areas addressed.
CENTERSTAGE workshops will be led by a panel of experienced theater professionals, educators and practitioners who bring a wealth of diverse knowledge and skills. More information about the workshop presenters is coming! The workshop also includes a world premiere of the stage play “One” by Lanetta Kenney – A compelling play about the issue of “colorism” in the Black community.
The event is FREE to the public, but pre-registration is required. CENTERSTAGE will be from 8am-4pm, including the Bonus Dialogue. For more information, go to onyxfest.com. Register at www.eventbrite.com/e/the-2nd-annual-centerstage-tickets-551796156157.
Jackie Taylor’s Biography:
Jackie Taylor has written and produced more than 100 plays and musical biographies, including The Marvin Gaye Story, The Jackie Wilson Story, All In Love Is Fair, The Other Cinderella, I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass), Don’t Make Me Over (The Story of Dionne Warwick), Don’t Shed A Tear (The Billie Holiday Story), Somebody Say Amen, At Last: A Tribute To Etta James; among a myriad of other acclaimed productions.
A phenomenal actress and performer in her own right, Taylor has had featured roles in several major films, including Cooley High, Hoodlum, Barbershop 2, The Father Clements Story, Losing Isiah and To Sir With Love: Part 2. Ms. Taylor also has numerous television and theater credits to her name. She has worked with such greats as Sidney Poitier, Laurence Fishburne, Vanessa Williams, Bill Dukes, Glynn Thurman and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs, to name a few.
Jackie Taylor received her B.A. in theater from Loyola University. She earned a Master’s degree in Education from American College of Education and received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from DePaul University. An outstanding teacher, Jackie has worked for the Chicago Board of Education, the Illinois Arts Council and Urban Gateways. Through the years, Ms. Taylor has taught every grade level from Kindergarten through major universities.
Taylor serves as the president of the African American Arts Alliance and is on the board of the Betty Shabazz International Schools. Taylor has received numerous awards for her work. Nationally, she and her work have been featured in Jet, Variety, the New York Times, The Washington Post and Essence.
On September 10, 2010, Ms. Taylor broke ground on the new 20-million-dollar Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center which opened on November 18, 2011.
About A.R.T.I. (Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI):
The Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (ARTI) is a program of study offered by the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, the School of Education and the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement using a multidisciplinary approach to “edutainment.” ARTI was developed to document and artistically reflect the history, cultural life, and politics of peoples of the African Diaspora. As a public arts initiative, ARTI has a deep commitment to and focuses on artistic and community engagement. The Office of Community Engagement and the Schools of Liberal Arts and Education are supporting this proposal because it advances the idea that learning in the arts is invaluable at all stages of life, and the integration of the arts into the fabric of community life may advance civic engagement while also creating a college and career pathway.