(CBS) — It is a theater that has been making a name for itself in Chicago for 30 years.
Its primary mission is to end racism, CBS 2’s Rob Johnson reports.
This month at the Black Ensemble Theater in Uptown there are not one, but two, shows currently in production: The first is the story of Chicago’s own Curtis Mayfield; the other, a revue called “Chicago’s Golden Soul.”
Like everything here, they are the vision of founder and executive director Jackie Taylor.
“It has to be superb. Not good — it has to be superb,” she says.
Jackie began her career as a teacher before turning to acting, appearing in several movies. But she rejected the Hollywood lifestyle and returned to her roots, starting the Black Ensemble Theater in 1976, with one powerful stated goal.
“I wanted to build a theater to eradicate racism,” she says. “When I said that then people looked at me like I was crazy … but you have to dream beyond the dream-able dream.”
Over the years, Jackie produced, wrote and starred in dozens of shows, but her crowning achievement was opening a theater she could call her own: a nearly 300-seat theater on North Clark Street in 2011.
“We have definitely been able to reach more people,” she says.
This sparkling new theater has not only allowed Jackie to produce shows like the tribute to her fellow former Cabrini Green resident Mayfield, but to produce a play for the younger generation about solving problems in a classroom.
The latest productions will be playing through the end of March. For more information, click here.