A workshop for those interested in the show side and the business side of entertainment.
Sponsored by the Africana Repertory Theatre of IUPUI (A.R.T.I.), CENTERSTAGE is designed for a broad range of theater enthusiasts, from the novice to those pursuing careers in onstage production. CENTERSTAGE workshops was led by a panel of experienced theater professionals, educators and practitioners who brought a wealth of diverse knowledge and skills. Sessions ran concurrently and was repeated, allowing each participant to attend two of the topic areas addressed.
SPECIAL 2023 CENTERSTAGE KEYNOTE Presented by Dr. Jackie Taylor, Founder and CEO of the 40-year-old Black Ensemble Theater of Chicago. (See bio below)
FEATURED PERFORMANCE of the one-act play “ONE” by Lanetta Kennedy.
This short play focuses on colorism within the black community. The setting is a diverse college, with two dorm rooms, occupied by four different black students. It seems as though a storm has come in and forced them to remain still. In that stillness some very hard topics are discussed about the difference between being a light skinned black person versus a dark skinned black person. Things get heated as they try to find a median between their worlds. They all have a big lesson to learn and soon they will see the unity in being one. (See Lanetta Kennedy’s bio below)
CENTERSTAGE WORKSHOP SESSIONS OFFERED:
1. “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.
Workshop Leaders: Charla Booth (Playwright, Technical Director, IPS Educator) and Gabrielle Patterson (Playwright, Southern Fried Poetry Slam Champion)
2. “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.
Workshop Leaders: Rain Wilson (Playwright, Educator) and Dr. Regina Turner (Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Division of Undergraduate Education at IUPUI)
3. “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.
Workshop Leaders: Jeffrey Dahlstrom (Associate Director at IndyFringe) and Denise Johnson Richardson (Choral Director at Pike Township, Music Ministry Leader at Olivet Missionary Baptist Church)
4. “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.
Workshop Leaders: Max McCreary (Director of Audience Engagement at Indyfringe) and Dr. Khaula Murtadha (Associate Vice Chancellor at the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement)
***Bonus Dialogue: “Theatre of the Oppressed /Theatre for Social Justice” led by Rain Wilson (Playwright, Educator, Activist).
DR. JACKIE TAYLOR’S BIO
Dr. Jackie Taylor was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the Cabrini Green housing project. She rose from modest roots to become a distinguished director, producer, actress, educator, singer, playwright and theater founder. As the Founder of the 40-year-old Black Ensemble Theater (BE), she has created a strong institution committed to eradicating racism. BE is recognized throughout the nation for its outstanding original productions and exceptional educational outreach programs.
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 just 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. The City of Chicago honored her as a 2016 Fifth Star Award Recipient. The former Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, declared March 27, 2009 Jackie Taylor day in Illinois. Taylor has received numerous awards for her work. She has been named one of the top 50 Performers by New City 2014 publication. She was named a Chicago Defender 2016 Women of Excellence Honoree and was included in New City Stage Magazine’s 2013 List of the 50 People Who Really Perform in Chicago. In 2012, Jackie was honored by Today’s Chicago Woman Magazine as one of 100 women to watch and a Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine. Other honors include a Special Jeff Award for her cultural contributions, a League of Chicago Theater Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the Top 10 in the Arts in the Chicago Sun-Times’ 100 Most Powerful Women; “Producer of the Year” by the National Black Theater Festival and a “Phenomenal Women Award” by Expo for Today’s Black Women. 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. >>Read ABC 7 News article
LANETTA KENNEDY’S BIO
Lanetta Kennedy was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, living most of her adolescent life with her grandparents, eventually moving to South Bend, Indiana, with her beautiful mother to complete high school years. Later she landed in Indianapolis, where she completed her college education at Martin University. She is a daughter, a wife, a sister and a mother of two beautiful daughters. Taliah is in her final year at Indiana University, and Taryn is an eleven year old energetic creative, just like her mother.
Lanetta is a woman who wears many hats. She started acting in 2015, and fell in love with theater. She has landed lead and supportive roles. In 2015, she debuted in Creeps and Silly Women. In 2016, she landed her first lead in It Is Well by Angela Jackson Brown. Lanetta co-directed The Quilting in 2017 and co directed For Colored Girls in 2018, along with many more projects. Lanetta landed a supportive role in The Soul of Christmas by Kaidydid Productions in 2018. That same year her debut play Forever Moore premiered at the Onyxfest. It did exceptionally well selling out multiple shows. In 2019, her sophomore play Too Good To Be True was phenomenal. It debuted at the IHS. During the pandemic, Lanetta wrote multiple plays including the play One, which focuses on colorism within the black community.
Lanetta continues to act, write, and direct, and through these things she strives to touch the hearts of many.