The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights

January 15, 2010 10:11:58 AM PST
Writers' Theatre celebrates the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with "The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights"The powerful production begins its tour to area schools with a free, public performance at "A Day of Service and Inspiration" on January 18 at Am Shalom Synagogue

Weaving together poetry, hip-hop and history, The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights is a touring one-woman show that follows a young girl's search for truth and self-discovery through the American Civil Rights Movement. This cross-cultural, multi-media performance interweaves personal interviews of Chicago-based Civil Rights Activists, and includes both the celebrated and unsung heroes of the Movement. In a tour-de-force performance, performer Tawny Newsome gives voice to Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles; founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History Dr. Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs; Reverend Jesse Jackson; Puerto Rican poet and activist David Hernandez and others.

Writers' Theatre continues its partnership with Communities in Schools of Chicago to bring The MLK Project into Chicago Public Schools and to help violence prevention programs to carry on Dr. King's legacy of non-violence, protest, and peace. Since the inception of The MLK Project in 2007, it has been seen by more than 20,000 students in 75 Chicagoland schools, grades 6-12. Each in-school performance is accompanied by a post-show discussion, a comprehensive teacher guide, and post-performance writing activities designed in the same format of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test.

This year, Writers' Theatre is also presenting a free public performance of this powerful, educational production. The MLK Project written by Yolanda Androzzo, directed by Jimmy McDermott and featuring Tawny Newsome, will be presented on Monday, January 18 at 1 p.m. at Am Shalom Synagogue, 840 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe.

The performance will be held as part of "A Day of Service and Inspiration," organized by Writers' Theatre, Volunteer Center of New Trier Township, the Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs and the Glencoe Junior High Project. The day's events will begin at 9 a.m. and end with a performance of The MLK Project. Featured speakers and artists include Reverend Calvin Morris of the Community Renewal Society; the Soul Children of Chicago Choir; and storyteller Susan O'Halloran.

After the opening performance, The MLK Project continues its tour to Chicago-area schools through February 26.

You can find Writers' Theatre on Facebook or follow Writers' Theatre on Twitter at For more information about The MLK Project, visit For more information about "A Day of Service and Inspiration," visit


Directed by Walt Whitman, the Soul Children of Chicago have produced five albums: We Are One (1988), Generation X (1999), Growing Up (1996), Live and Blessed (1991) and This Is the Day (1996). The choir has performed in Italy, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland and Israel and performed before 1.7 billion people at the opening day of the World Cup and won the prestigious Stellar Award. Additional credits include recording with Public Announcement, R. Kelly (World's Greatest), Century Men, Cherie Keggy, Neil Diamond (Christmas Album) and Mother Theresa (Tribute Album). The choir has performed with Harry Belafonte, Neil Diamond, Gladys Knight, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Yolanda Adams and Garth Brooks. Mr. Whitman and The Soul Children have also performed at The Democratic National Convention for President Bill Clinton and at the White House for President George Bush Sr., President Ronald Reagan and President Richard Nixon.

The Soul Children are also singing at Temple Sholom of Chicago on Friday, January 15 at 7 pm at the Martin Luther King Celebration which is open to the public; it is located at 3480 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago; 773-525-4707


Tawny Newsome (Alaya) returns to Writers' Theatre for a second year working on this exciting show. A DePaul Theatre School graduate, some of her favorite work includes Under MilkWood, Lisa The Homeless Lady in A New Brain and Echo Boom. She has appeared onstage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in their productions of Two Noble Kinsmen and How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back. Other Chicago credits include Goldbrick with Collaboraction/Walkabout Theaters, Fati's Last Dance with Victory Gardens' Ignition Festival, The Life with Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, The Teapot Scandals with Porchlight Music Theatre and Keep Ishmael with White Horse Theatre Company. In addition to acting, Tawny also sings with several bands. You can hear her in her own electronic project, G-FAMP, as well as with classic rock band The Dirty Rooks. Tawny teaches acting technique and solo performance at the Beverly Art Center

Yolanda Androzzo (playwright) is a native Chicagoan and received her B.F.A. in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. She has taught theatre, poetry and fine art to children in both private and public school settings since 1999. Upon receiving training in fine arts from Mission: Renaissance (Los Angeles) and Otis School of Design (Los Angeles), Yolanda began teaching fine arts to children in private studios and drama and art to students within Chicago-area public schools through Urban Gateways and Pegasus Players. Yolanda has worked theatrically with Goodman Theatre and The Shakespeare Theatre of Washington. D.C. and has performed her poetry at the Salida Performance Poetry Festival (Colorado), Estrogen Fest (Chicago) and numerous cafés and theaters. She has contributed to radio programs such as WLUW Wordslingers and Reverend Jesse Jackson's morning show. Additionally, she was an Oral Historian for the Smithsonian Institution's Latino Chicago program and the Youth Outreach Manager for the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Jimmy McDermott is the former Associate Artistic Director for Writers' Theatre and returns to direct The MLK Project having previously directed such plays as The Maids, The Puppetmaster of Lodz, The Frog Prince by David Mamet and the experimental staging of Suzan Lori Parks' 365 Days/365 Plays: Week # 49. He is also an ensemble member with the side project theatre company in Chicago, having directed The 4th Graders Present an Unnamed Love-Suicide, The Elephant Man, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Salome and Sweet Pretty Love Jam. Other directing credits include work for The Hypocrites and Collaboraction. He received his master of fine arts degree in directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University in 1999.

ABOUT THE SPONSORS OF "A Day of Service and Inspiration

The Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs is a non-profit agency advocating fair and affordable housing in 16 of Chicago's northern suburbs, while also providing Homesharing service, housing information, referrals, investigation of housing discrimination and landlord/tenant and predatory lending complaints. More information is available at

The Volunteer Center is a non-profit agency connecting individuals and groups in New Trier Township to meaningful volunteer opportunities with other non-profits in the township and surrounding metropolitan Chicago. More information is available at

Writers' Theatre is a professional company focusing on the Word and the Artist. Remaining true to the intention of the playwright and nurturing the artist stand at the center of the mission. Now in its 18th season, the company both revives classic scripts and cultivates new works and adaptations while invigorating them with fresh energy in the intimacy of its venues. Founded in 1992, Writers' Theatre performed exclusively at Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Avenue for the first 12 years. In the fall of 2003, the organization opened a new 108-seat performance venue at 325 Tudor Court. Today, Writers' Theatre continues to produce in both spaces, maintaining an intimate theatrical experience for audiences. Since 2000, the subscriber base has grown almost 250%, from 1,500 to more than 5,200 today. With an operating budget of $3.3 million, Writers' Theatre is supported by a staff of 18 full-time employees and a 31-member Board of Trustees.

Monday, January 18 starting at 9 am
"The MLK Project" at 1 pm
Am Shalom Synagogue

MLK Day Celebration
Friday, January 15
Temple Sholom
3480 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago