Please join ArtYard for an intimate afternoon at the McDonnell Theater for an artist talk and reading of Whittier, a new play by Tylie Shider, from 4 to 6 PM on Saturday, May 21.
Shider, a playwright, poet, and journalist who was born and raised in New Jersey and lives in Minneapolis, is the inaugural playwright in ArtYard’s residency program.
Whittier is a multimedia docudrama that follows a diverse community of neighbors quarantined in Whittier, Minneapolis, days after the murder of George Floyd. Directed by Andrew Binger, a Newark-based actor, director, and educator, Whittier is inspired by the Minneapolis-based graffiti, lawn signs, and murals created in protest of George Floyd’s murder. The piece is adapted from focus groups, interviews, and small talks the playwright conducted with neighbors, small business owners, and community leaders of faith during the 2020 uprisings in his neighborhood.
Shider also created a documentary, Sign O’ The Times, to accompany the stage component. The film is a recent Official Selection for the 2022 Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.
The Whittier cast includes Brian Anthony Wilson, Andrew Baldwin, Taylor Congdon, Kevis Hillocks, Melody Lieberman, Nicolette Lynch, Gha’il Rhodes Benjamin, and Jarvis Tomdio.
At the reading, the actors will showcase the development of the play with early choreography, lighting, and multimedia in place. The goal is for the playwright to hear the written play spoken out loud in front of an audience to understand how their intentions are received so they can make edits if needed.
Deonté Griffin-Quick, ArtYard theatre curator, will lead an artist talk and audience Q&A with Shider and Binger after the reading. The event is free of charge.
The reading is the first theatre event taking place in the newly opened McDonnell Theater, the heart of ArtYard’s new building at 13 Front St., a welcoming communal resource and vessel channeling the power of art to unsettle, engage, bridge divides, and spark unexpected moments of arresting beauty. The 162-seat theater has state-of-the-art projection, lighting, and surround sound and will be the site of music, film screenings, dance, theatre, artist talks, and more.
Playwright and journalist Tylie Shider is a two-time recipient of the Jerome Fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center (PWC) and an I Am Soul playwright in residence at the National Black Theatre (NBT). His recent plays include Labor (The Theater Project), Whittier (PWC) and THE GOSPEL WOMAN (NBT). He holds a BA in journalism from Delaware State University and an MFA in dramatic writing from New York University. A proud member of the Dramatist Guild, he is currently a professor of playwriting at Augsburg University and a staff writer for Minnesota Playlist.
Andrew Binger is an actor, director, arts administrator, and educator from Newark, NJ. Andrew is the Artistic Director at Yendor Theatre Company (YTC), which he co-founded with his mentor, the late Rodney Gilbert. Yendor Theatre Company is dedicated to developing, producing, and celebrating works by Black and Brown writers. As artistic director, Andrew launched the organization’s Summer Theatre Initiative, designed to bring theatre directly into the neighborhoods of Newark. He directed the inaugural production, If I Could, In My Hood, I Would… by David Lee White, with productions at the Newark Riverfront, Lincoln Park, and The Soundstage at Clinton Avenue.