DALLAS (SMU) — Golden Globe-winning actress, director and playwright Regina Taylor is partnering with SMU Meadows School of the Arts and its Division of Theatre in a unique, three-part theatrical project titled the black album. 2020. Conceived by SMU Distinguished Alumna Taylor, who earned a theatre degree from Meadows in 1981, the project explores and addresses the question of what it is to be Black in 2020.
“2020 is of historical significance, defined by COVID-19, social protest ignited by the murder of George Floyd and this year’s presidential election process,” says Taylor, a Dallas native. “We are on the brink – re-examining our past and challenging who we believe ourselves to be. How we deal with these events will affect generations to come.”
The first part of the project – the black album. 2020. resistance. – features a 75-minute presentation, written and directed by Taylor.
“the black album is a series of snapshot scenes imagined through the lens of MC 2020, an SMU student who streams from his ‘woke’ mind,” says Taylor. “The piece captures the varied voices of African Americans questioning identity, social justice, history and fear of erasure in this current climate.”
The show will be performed live at 8 p.m. October 27 and 29 on the SMU Meadows YouTube channel by seven Meadows undergraduate and graduate acting students. Sets, costumes, lighting, and sound will be created by Meadows theatre design students, alumni and faculty in collaboration with guest artists. Admission is free; to register to attend, visit https://blog.smu.edu/meadows/theblackalbum/.
Taylor developed the project “to address questions about how we continue to teach and create theater in this time of COVID-19,” she says. “the black album also addresses how we as artists speak on social justice in our work. The play was written to give a platform for necessary conversations in this racially incendiary climate.”
“The Division is honored to be working with Regina Taylor on this performance piece,” says Gretchen Smith, chair of Meadows’ theatre division. “It has been a pleasure to witness the strong artistic collaboration between Regina, our students, our alumni, our production team, and the wonderful guest artists who have joined us on this journey. I can’t wait for audiences to see the black album. 2020. resistance. in performance.”
Two additional parts of the black album. 2020., including a collaboration with students and artists from SMU and institutions around the globe, and a roundtable presentation of noted BIPOC artistic directors and theater makers, are in the planning stages and will debut this winter and spring.
About Regina Taylor
Actress/director/playwright/educator/activist Regina Taylor is the playwright-in-residence at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, a three-year appointment through the National Playwright Residency Program established by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and HowlRound Theatre Commons. Her play Oo-Bla-Dee is being presented at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Taylor is also writing new plays for Audible and for Southern Methodist University (the black album, about what it is to be Black in 2020).
Her playwright credits include Bread (Edgerton Award, WaterTower Theatre); Crowns (four Helen Hayes Awards, including Best Director); Oo-Bla-Dee (Steinberg-ATCA award); Drowning Crow (Broadway, Manhattan Theatre Club); The Trinity River Plays (Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award); and stop.reset. (Signature Theatre Residency 5).
Taylor received the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair in Theatre at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. An artistic associate of Goodman Theatre, Taylor is its most produced playwright.
Taylor is featured in Netflix’s All Day and a Night starring Jeffrey Wright and Ashton Saunders and directed/written by Joe Robert Cole (writer for Black Panther), and guest stars on Council of Dads (NBC), The Red Line (producer Ava DuVernay, CBS), The Good Fight, and Lovecraft Country (producers Jordan Peele, J. J. Abrams and Misha Green). For her television role as Lily Harper in I’ll Fly Away, Taylor received a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress, three NAACP Image Awards and two Emmy Award nominations. Her other television roles include The Unit. Taylor was the first African American lead in Masterpiece Theatre’s Cora Unashamed, starred as Anita Hill in HBO’s Strange Justice (Gracie Award), and was featured in A Good Day to Die starring Sidney Poitier. She has co-starred in USA Network’s Dig and guest starred in Elementary and The Black List. Taylor’s film credits include Saturday Church, The Negotiator, Courage Under Fire, Clockers, and Lean on Me. Taylor was also the first Black woman to play Juliet in Romeo and Juliet on Broadway.