Chicago's Black Ensemble Theatre Cultural Center

November 15, 2011 10:10:51 AM PST
The Black Ensemble Theatre is celebrating its 35th anniversary and the Grand Opening of the Black Ensemble Theatre Cultural Center.

Founded in 1976 by Jackie Taylor, the Black Ensemble Theatre has grown from a small community arts organization to a nationally and internationally renowned strong arts institution. Some of the most popular productions include "The Jackie Wilson Story", "The Other Cinderella" and "Don't Make Me Over: In Tribute to Dionne Warwick." The stated mission of the Black Ensemble Theatre: eradicate racism and its damaging effects upon our society through the utilization of theatre arts.

The new $19 Million home of the Black Ensemble Theatre at 4450 N. Clark Street is set to open with "The Jackie Wilson Story" on Friday, November 18th. Governor Pat Quinn and other politicians and business and community leaders are expected to attend. The facility is 50,000 Square Feet and houses a 300 seat main stage, 150 seat secondary stage and limited indoor parking garage.

"The Jackie Wilson Story"
November 18- January 8
Black Ensemble Theatre
4450 N. Clark Street
Call: 773-769-4451

More about Jackie Taylor (release)

Jackie Taylor was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was raised in the Cabrini Green housing project. She rose from modest roots to become a distinguished actress, singer, director, playwright, educator and theater founder. As the Founder of the Black Ensemble Theater, she has created a strong institution recognized throughout the nation for its outstanding, original productions and dedication to its mission of eradicating racism. Black Ensemble Theater is in the mist of building a $19,000,000 Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center.

Taylor began producing her own shows as early as 1973. She also starred in television and films, and appeared in major theatrical productions. While she was earning respect as an actress, Taylor felt the need to create a voice in the theatrical world that would serve to address the sickness of racism. She founded the Black Ensemble Theater in 1976 with a $1,200 loan and has built the Theater into a major cultural institution with an annual budget of more than $3.5 million.

Taylor serves as the Founder and Executive Director of the 35-year-old Black Ensemble Theater. Over the course of the past years the Black Ensemble Theater has remained true to its mission of utilizing theater to eradicate racism. Black Ensemble Theater's audience is considered one of the most racially diverse theater's in the country. Black Ensemble Theater is known for not only its fantastic award winning productions - all designed to cut across racial and cultural lines, bringing people together. However, this dynamic company has also been lauded for its highly successful educational outreach programs, serving more than 10,000 youth each year. Jackie Taylor has written and produced more than 100 plays and musical biographies, including All In Love Is Fair, I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass), God Is A Black Man Named Ricky, Those Sensational Soulful 60's, The Other Cinderella, Somebody Say Amen, At Last: A Tribute To Etta James, and The Jackie Wilson Story, among a myriad of other acclaimed productions.

An acclaimed actress and performer in her own right, Taylor has had featured roles in several major films, including Cooley High, Hoodlum, To Sir With Love ? Part 2, The Father Clements Story and Barbershop 2.

Taylor is a phenomenal educator having taught grade school, high school, universities as well as teacher for the Board of Education. She has worked on special projects with the Illinois Arts Council and Urban Gateways, where she served as assistant director of special projects. As a teacher, she likes the challenge of working with troubled students. Through the thirty year old program "Strengthening the School Through Theater Arts," designed by Taylor, teachers learn how to use theater in teaching the curriculum and enhancing classroom management. Taylor has impacted thousands of teachers and students through the years. As a testimonial, the Boys and Girls Club of America awarded her for her work with youth.

Taylor serves as the president of the African American Arts Alliance. She previously served as artistic director for the Regal Theater and vice president of the League of Chicago Theaters. The City of Chicago honored her by naming a street after her, Jackie Taylor Street located on the same block as the Black Ensemble Theater. The State of Illinois honored her by declaring March 27, 2009 as Jackie Taylor Day. Ms. Taylor has received numerous awards for her works, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of Chicago Theatres, a Special Jeff Award for her outstanding contribution to Chicago Theater, one of the Top 10 in the Arts in the Chicago Sun-Times' 100 Most Powerful Women; "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.

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