March , 2019

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Closer to home, The Goodman’s “Louder Than A Bomb” team – the only LTAB Team from a professional theater – advances to quarterfinals of the world’s largest youth poetry festival


CHICAGO, IL –  Artists/educators/activists Willa J. Taylor and Bobby Biedrzycki of Goodman Theatre’s Education and Engagement team have been invited to present an interactive workshop at South by Southwest Education® (SXSWedu®)  an internationally renowned convergence of creative artists and educators, in Austin, Texas, next week. The workshop, “Create to Change: Artistic Practice as Pedagogy,” explores how artistic praxis (the what, how and why of what artists do) can be used by teachers to differentiate instruction and activate student engagement—a model used in the Goodman’s award-winning teacher training series, the Student Subscription Series. The Goodman is the only theater to present an interactive workshop at the conference, which more than 300 educators are scheduled to attend. The SXSWedu® Conference & Festival fosters innovation in learning by hosting a diverse community of stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds in education. The four-day event affords registrants open access to sessions, interactive workshops, hands on learning experiences, film screenings, early stage start-ups and a host of networking opportunities. By providing a platform for collaboration, SXSWedu® works to promote creativity and social change.

In addition, the Goodman’s Louder Than A Bomb team, “Team Good Eddy”—will participate in the quarterfinals on March 5.  Coached by Biedrzycki and team captain Kristyn Zoe Wilkerson, herself a former Goodman LTAB participant, the 10-member team is led by Tina Calhoun, a senior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School and Goodman Youth Art Council member. Team Good Eddy competed against more than 120 Chicagoland teams in the February 25 preliminary round and was one of 32 teams to advance to the next round. This marks the second year that the Goodman has participated in the annual youth poetry festival; tickets ($3-6) are now available for purchase at YoungChicagoAuthors.org. Hosted annually by Young Chicago Authors during February and March, LTAB attracts more than 1,000 participants from 120 schools and community organizations. Of the 4,000 young Chicagoans served through the various year-round Young Chicago Authors programs in writing, publication and performance education, approximately 68% are African American and 18% are Hispanic/Latino. More than 10,000 audience members and participants attend the month long festival programming across Chicagoland, now in its 16th year.


For three decades, Goodman Theatre has endeavored to bring the transformative power of theater to individuals through a host of Education and Engagement programs, which promote literacy and learning, inspire self-confidence and empowerment, and effect change in the Chicago community. Walter Director of Education and Engagement Willa J. Taylor and her team of associates—Bobby Biedrzycki (Curriculum and Instruction Associate), Elizabeth Rice (Education Programs Associate) and Brandi Lee (Education and Community Engagement Assistant)—oversee the nationally-renowned, arts-centered programs for Chicago teachers, students and lifelong learners. The Goodman believes that theater is more than a play or a place: it is an inspiring, expansive lens on the world that can profoundly engage communities and expand minds. Visit goodmantheatre.org/education for more information.


Willa J. Taylor began her career in arts education at Arena Stage where, under Founding Director Zelda Fichandler, she established the Allen Lee Hughes Fellows Program—one of the first theater-run apprenticeships designed to increase participation by people of color in professional theater. She then went to Lincoln Center Theater, where she created The Urban Ensemble, a multidisciplinary project that served at-risk youth. This collaboration between Lincoln Center and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and The Public Theater was cited by President Clinton’s Council on the Arts and Humanities in its 1996 report, Coming Up Taller. At Lincoln Center, she consulted for New Victory Theatre, where she designed the arts education program for their inaugural season. Taylor also served as cultural director for Gay Games IV, where she oversaw the production of more than 200 cultural events, including the Broadway production of Sir Ian McKellen’s A Knight Out. For 12 years she served as a Russian and Arabic linguist in the US Navy. While overseas, she oversaw productions for the United Service Organization in Greece and managed Armed Forces Radio and Television in Turkey where she created the Profiles in Black history series. Following her graduation from Kendall College’s culinary program in 2001, Taylor opened Taylor-Made Cuisine, a gourmet catering company as well as Home Café, a neighborhood bistro. In 2005, she helped open and served as the catering chef for Chicago’s EatZi’s Easygoing Gourmet, a chain of gourmet bakeries, take out markets and restaurants based out of Dallas, Texas.

In addition to his work at the Goodman, Bobby Biedrzycki is a company member of 2nd Story and faculty Columbia College Chicago, where he was the 2013 recipient of the Excellence-in-Teaching Award. As a writer, performer, educator and human rights activist, Biedrzycki’s stories, poems, and performances have appeared on pages, stages and public spaces across the U.S. and beyond. His work is rooted in cross-disciplinary art-making that focuses on creating social change.


Goodman Theatre Women’s Board is the Major Supporter of Education and Community Engagement. Polk Bros. Foundation is the Principal Foundation Supporter of the Student Subscription Series. The Crown Family is the Major Supporter of the Student Subscription Series. Target is the Major Corporate Sponsor for the Target Student Matinees. The Efroymson-Hamid Family Foundation and the Efroymson Family Fund are the Education and Community Engagement Season Sponsors. GCM Grosvenor, Northridge Group and Peoples Gas are Supporters of Education and Community Engagement. Edmond and Alice Opler Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Goodman Theatre Scenemakers Board are Supporters of the PlayBuild Youth Intensive. The Siragusa Foundation is the Supporter of Training for Teaching Artists. Dr. Scholl Foundation is the Supporter of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program.


About Goodman Theatre


Called America’s “Best Regional Theatre” by Time magazine, Goodman Theatre has won international recognition for its artists, productions and programs, and is a major cultural, educational and economic pillar in Chicago. Founded in 1925 by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth (an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s), Goodman Theatre has garnered hundreds of awards for artistic achievement and community engagement, including two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards (including “Outstanding Regional Theatre” in 1992), nearly 160 Joseph Jefferson Awards and more. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the Goodman’s artistic priorities include new plays (more than 150 world or American premieres in the past 30 years), reimagined classics (including Falls’ nationally and internationally celebrated productions of Death of a Salesman, Long’s Day’s Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy), culturally specific work, musical theater (26 major productions in 20 years, including 10 world premieres) and international collaborations. Diversity and inclusion have been primary cornerstones of the Goodman’s mission for 30 years; over the past decade, 68% of the Goodman’s 35 world premieres were authored by women and/or playwrights of color, and the Goodman was the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle.” Each year the Goodman’s numerous education and community engagement programs—including the innovative Student Subscription Series, now in its 30th year—serve thousands of students, teachers, life-long learners and special constituencies. In addition, for nearly four decades the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has led to the creation of a new generation of theatergoers in Chicago.

Goodman Theatre’s leadership includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Joan Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Swati Mehta is Women’s Board President and Gordon C.C. Liao is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.


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