Regina Taylor is an award-winning playwright and actress, with a career spanning all mediums (film, TV, and stage). Perhaps best known for her work on the television series “I’ll Fly Away” (a role for which she won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama), Regina also appeared in the four season run of CBS’ “The Unit.” Her film career is varied and includes projects like “Lean On Me,” Spike Lee’s “Clockers,” “Losing Isaiah,” and “The Negotiator.” An accomplished playwright, Regina is currently a member of Signature Theatre’s Residency Five (a unique program that guarantees each playwright three world-premiere productions of new plays over the course of a five-year residency) with the likes of Katori Hall, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Will Eno, and Martha Clarke, among others. (“Amazing writers, amazing voices!” she told us.) Taylor’s critically acclaimed play “Crowns” continues to be one of the most performed musicals in the country.
Through Residency Five and Signature Theatre, Regina’s first offering will be a play titled, “stop. reset.”
I had the pleasure of speaking with Regina about “stop. reset.” and her residency at Signature Theatre. She shared that in her play, we follow ‘Alex Ames,’ the owner of Chicago’s oldest African-American book publishing company, on a day in which he is conducting interviews with all of his employees in an effort to see where he can “cut the fat.” In this constantly advancing technology-based generation, ‘Alex’ is forced to take stock of the publishing company he runs, as e-books seem to threaten to knock him out of the game. In an effort to keep his business afloat, he decides to interview his workers to see which of them are obsolete as he figures out how to adapt to the changing landscape. ‘Alex’ meets tech-savvy 19 year-old ‘J,’ a janitor at his company. ‘J’ is the youngest employee, by far, and from there the wheels begin to turn.
Regina informed me that identity is the central theme to “stop. reset.” and that she is honored to have had the opportunity to create this piece especially for Signature Theatre, in an attempt at drawing audiences with a story that “lives both on stage and online.” Over at StopReset.com the dialogue surrounding the play continues.When asked how her Blackness influenced her work, she made it clear that it wasn’t the sole influencing descriptor, and that it, coupled with her being female among other things influences her work because she “writes with (her) whole self.” She also talked about the group of actors cast to give life to her words, and beamed about how they reflect “the community I walk in,” what with them being African-American, Asian-American, white, Latino, etc.
I asked Regina how involved she was with the casting process and whether she liked it or not. She replied that as the writer and director the piece she is very hands on with the casting process, and enjoys it. The cast of “stop. reset.” includes Carl Lumbly (‘Jitney,’ TV’s’ ‘Alias’ and ‘Cagney and Lacey’), LaTanya Richardson Jackson (‘Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,’ ‘The Fighting Temptations’), Teagle Bougere (‘Wings,’ ‘A Raisin in the Sun’), and Ismael Cruz-Cordova (‘Sesame Street’).
“stop. reset.” is set to begin previews at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre (at Signature Theatre) on August 20th, open officially on September 8th, and run (for now) until September 29th! This is a must see show! Make some time to head to the theatre and see this piece.