PLAYBILL ON-LINE'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Regina Taylor

PLAYBILL ON-LINE'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Regina Taylor Regina Taylor is that rare woman of the theatre who has managed to try her hand at almost every aspect of the dramatic process. She has directed (Maria Irene Fornes' Dr. Kheal at Chicago's Goodman Theater); she is a playwright (Escape From Paradise, Watermelon Rinds and Inside the Belly of the Beast, among others); and she is, or course, an actress. Television fans of the lauded dramatic series "I'll Fly Away" know of her talents in the latter field. Those who prefer stage work can currently see Taylor at Second Stage, where she is appearing opposite Irma P. Hall and Lynne Thigpen in Cheryl L. West's Jar the Floor.
The company of Jar the Floor in rehearsal.
The company of Jar the Floor in rehearsal. (Photo by Photo by David Henderson)

Regina Taylor is that rare woman of the theatre who has managed to try her hand at almost every aspect of the dramatic process. She has directed (Maria Irene Fornes' Dr. Kheal at Chicago's Goodman Theater); she is a playwright (Escape From Paradise, Watermelon Rinds and Inside the Belly of the Beast, among others); and she is, or course, an actress. Television fans of the lauded dramatic series "I'll Fly Away" know of her talents in the latter field. Those who prefer stage work can currently see Taylor at Second Stage, where she is appearing opposite Irma P. Hall and Lynne Thigpen in Cheryl L. West's Jar the Floor.

Playbill On-Line: So what do you like better, writing plays or acting in plays?
Regina Taylor: Oh, that's hard to say. I like both.

PBOL: Ever tempted to give Cheryl West suggestions?
RT: No. But, as an actor, I do have questions for the playwright in terms of tracking the character.

PBOL: Any new plays coming from you?
RT: Yes there are. I have a piece that will be done at the McCarter Theatre. I also have a piece that will be done at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival next season, and they've commissioned me to write another.

PBOL: So Jar the Floor's about four generations. Which generation are you?
RT: Third generation. My character is a professor in a major university in Chicago and today she's waiting to hear if she gets tenure. Today's also the great-grandmother [of the family's] 90th birthday. So these events are going to happen all on one day. I wanted to do Jar the Floor in order to work with Marion McClinton, a wonderful special director. I was really looking forward to that. And I wanted to support Cheryl West. There has been little mention about the rarity of a black playwright in New York at a big Off-Broadway house. I also wanted to work with Lynne Thigpen, who is legendary in American theatre. PBOL: You worked with Lynne Thigpen on "Lean on Me." Didn't you have any interaction with her on that film?
RT: (Laughs) No, we never actually had anything together, so this is the first time we've worked together. With Irma Hall, though -- I'm from Dallas, Texas, and she lived in Dallas for years -- my first professional job was with Irma Hall.

PBOL: You've accumulated a lot of credits since then? Any credit you couldn't wait to get off your resume?
RT: Oh, I can't say that.

PBOL: Well, then, what's the most embarrassing thing to ever happened to you on stage?
RT: It was probably when I was in this company at the Public Theater. We were in rep with As You Like It and Romeo and Juliet. We did the show at the Public for a while, then toured around. It was during, Romeo and Juliet -- I was playing Juliet -- and I had already offed myself and I'm lying on the ground. And I started twitched, because something's pelting me. And then, I heard something say, "Oh, she's not dead!" Someone or other in the audience had been throwing rocks at me trying to get me to move!

PBOL: How cruel. Tell me, do you have a dream role?
RT: Oh, gosh. That's a good question. I'd like to do the Greeks. I'd like to do Antigone.

--By Robert Simonson