A photo of four people standing, engaging in a lesson led by Jackie Taylor, who is second from the right.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Northeastern Illinois University and Black Ensemble Theater are pleased to announce the collaborative project “Our World,” written by Northeastern students, and coordinated and directed by Black Ensemble Associate Director Michelle Reneé Bester. 


“Our World” will be performed at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 2 at the Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark St. in Chicago. It will also be performed at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 6 on the University's Main Campus, 5500 N. St. Louis Ave., in the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs, Room B 159. The performances are free and open to the public. Tickets are not required. Parking is available at the theater in a lot or across the street from the theater. Street and paid parking are also available at Northeastern. 


Through the ongoing partnership, Northeastern and Black Ensemble Theater have joined together in their shared mission of eradicating racism, and creating a just and equitable world. “Our World” features nine students. They will perform a series of readings that share personal perspectives on the world through their life experiences.


Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Four Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.  


“I found this to be an incredible experience as I was able to connect with the students through conversation, music and art,” Bester said. “To see and hear the students open up and contribute to the project was inspiring and rewarding to me not only as a student of my craft but as a human being that will have impacted their world in some way. This was a blessing of an opportunity because the students allowed their differences to bring them together and create a wonderful presentation entitled, ‘Our World.’”


Over the course of the past year, Northeastern and Black Ensemble Theater have worked together to enhance educational and cultural opportunities for Northeastern students, engage Northeastern faculty in fostering a vibrant multicultural learning environment, and elevate the overall joyful and creative culture at University and the broader community.


“As one of the most diverse four-year public universities in the Midwest, we at Northeastern felt a sense of shared mission with Black Ensemble Theater, whose mission is to eradicate racism through the arts,” said Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Tim Libretti. “Jackie Taylor and the Black Ensemble Theater have been a transformative force in Northeastern's culture overall, providing inspiration, education, and opportunity for our students and support for our faculty as we seek to create the most fertile, humane and equitable learning environment for the communities we serve.”


Top photo: Jackie Taylor (second from the right) with members of the Northeastern community.