Maryanna Clarke, founder and artistic director of Tennessee Women's Theater Project (TWTP), has announced that renowned playwright and actress ReGina Taylor will create the first original script for the company, thanks to a "creation grant" awarded the company by the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission.
Taylor, who first came to public attention, as the star of NBC's acclaimed civil right era television series I'll Fly Away, has been awarded TWTP's first-ever commission to create a new play for the Nashville-based company, whose critically acclaimed offerings thus far have ranged from Almost, Maine, Defying Gravity and Unravelling the Ribbon to its 2011-12 season opening production of Trying, which opens at the Z. Alexander Looby Theatre on October 30.
"The contracts have been negotiated and all is agreed to via email; signed copies will arrive at ReGina Taylor's agent's office today," Clarke reports. "We have received a $17,000 Creation Grant from Metro Nashville Arts Commission for the production - it is a matching grant, so we will need to raise another
TWTP's commission for Taylor is a major step forward for the professional theater company, Clarke says, and is the result of years of planning and preparation.
Taylor's 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 Theatre Club in its inaugural season at the Biltmore Theatre and starred Alfre Woodard), A Night in Tunisia, Escape from Paradise, Watermelon Rinds and Inside the Belly of the Beast. Taylor's critically acclaimed Crowns was this past year's most performed musical in the country. Her play The Dreams of Sarah Breedlove was produced at Chicago's Goodman Theatre in June 2006.
Taylor is a member and Artistic Associate of the Goodman Theater. She was raised in Dallas and currently resides there.
Taylor is best known to television audiences for her role as Lilly Harper in the series I'll Fly Away, for which she won 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.
She made her professional acting debut on CBS in the movie Crisis at Central High. Her other television credits include the series The Education of Max Bickford, Feds and The Unit all on CBS, as well as television movies In From the Night, Cora Unashamed, Strange Justice, The Third Twin Hostile Waters, Children of the Dust, I'll Fly Away: Then and Now, Howard Beach: Making a Case for Murder, Concealed Enemies and Nurse.
Taylor's feature film credits include The Negotiator, Courage Under Fire, A Family Thing, The Keeper, Clockers, Losing Isaiah, Jersey Girl and Lean on Me.
She was 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.