Virtual Conversation with a Theater Maker: Turn the Page with Lileana Blain-Cruz
August 14, 2020
4:45-5:45 PM (EDT)
FREE and open to public
Since late March, Program in Theater Director Jane Cox has invited special guests to join her students for informal conversations about theater-making and the creative process. The broader community is invited to join these virtual conversations on Zoom. We ask — what inspires these significant theater artists? What does community mean to them?
For a second week, the conversation is turned over to Turn the Page: A Movement to Uplift Black-Owned Bookstores. Turn The Page is a collective striving to ignite a community of readers who commit to decolonize their bookshelves, to redistribute wealth into black communities and to take actions toward Black liberation.
Turn the Page founder and Princeton alum Edwin Rosales ‘17, along with fellow alum Abigail Jean-Baptiste ’18, will be in conversation with Princeton alum and OBIE Award-winning theater director Lileana Blain-Cruz ’06 about Black storytelling, her relationship to literature, and her work with the playwrights featured on the TTP August-September Collection.
Turn The Page: A Movement to Uplift Black-Owned Bookstores is a collective striving to ignite a community of readers who commit to decolonize their bookshelves, to redistribute wealth into black communities and to take actions toward Black liberation.
The founders of Turn The Page watched as Amazon sold out of books featured on anti-racist reading lists, while Black bookstores, which have been selling so-called anti-racist books for decades, struggled to stay open during the Covid-19 pandemic. This inspired us to question our definitions of allyship and activism, and Turn The Page was born with the simple challenge to our community: buy and read a book from a Black-owned bookstore each month.
We are grounded in practices of grassroots activism and radical Black collectives that have done the work of Black liberation before us and continue to do the work today. The Turn The Page Collective is a group of multi-racial young artists hoping to deepen our own work in Black liberation through partnerships and collaborations with Black-owned bookstores who are rooted in their communities. We build relationships with Black-owned bookstores and seek out how our collective and our community of readers can best support their business and their community. Our work is about easing the workload of the bookstores with whom we partner, to help counter the ways white supremacist capitalism has consistently worked to stifle Black-owned business.
Turn The Page efforts always center Black literature, Black artists, and of course Black-owned bookstores. With our bookstore partner, we develop bi-monthly Black Literature Collections for our Community of Readers. From these Collections, our readers select the books they want to purchase from the bookstore and commit to reading and engaging with these books . We sponsor events and conversations with Black writers, scholars, activists, artists, and more, which are curated around the works, themes, and questions highlighted in the current Black Literature Collection. Finally, we practice non-reciprocal giving by fundraising for Black-led literacy programs and events in our partnered bookstore’s community and our first fundraiser is for Source of Knowledge’s annual Read and Feed event taking place this Fall.
In just two months, the Turn The Page Community of Readers brought in over $25,000 in sales to Source of Knowledge, purchased over 1,300 books, and raised over $3,000 to Source of Knowledge’s Read & Feed. Our next Collection launches on August 7th and for this launch, we are partnering with Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts, who are hosting the first Turn The Page conversation. At this event, we will be speaking with Patrice McKinney and Dexter George from Source of Knowledge Book Store, who will discuss the importance of telling Black stories and their favorite works from the August/September TTP Black Literature Collection.
Theater director Lileana Blain-Cruz. Photo by Sarkis Delimelkon.
LILEANA BLAIN-CRUZ is a director from New York City and Miami and a recent recipient of a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award and an Obie Award for Marys Seacole at LCT3. Recent projects include Anatomy of a Suicide at The Atlantic Theater Company, Fefu and Her Friends at Theater For a New Audience, Girls at Yale Repertory Theater, Faust at Opera Omaha, and The House That Will Not Stand at New York Theater Workshop. She won an Obie Award for her direction of The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA The Negro Book of the Dead at Signature Theater. Other projects include Lucas Hnath’s Red Speedo at NYTW, Alice Birch’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again at Soho Rep, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ War at LCT3 and Yale Rep, Henry IV Part 1 and Much Ado About Nothing at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Bluest Eye at The Guthrie, Actually at MTC, SALOME at JACK, Christina Anderson’s Hollow Roots which premiered in the Under the Radar Festival at the Public Theater, Project Realms an electric pop opera performed at La Sala, a new translation of The Bakkhai at the Fisher Center of Performing Arts at Bard College, and A Guide to Kinship and Maybe Magic, a collaboration with choreographer Isabel Lewis and playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Dance New Amsterdam. She was a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, an Allen Lee Hughes Directing Fellow at Arena Stage, and she is currently a Usual Suspect of New York Theater Workshop. She was awarded a 2018 United States Artist Fellowship and the Josephine Abady Award from the League of Professional Theater Women. She received her BA from Princeton and her MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama, where she received both the Julian Milton Kaufman Memorial Prize and the Pierre-Andre Salim Prize for her leadership and directing. Upcoming projects include Dreaming Zenzille at St. Louis Repertory Theater and McCarter Theatre Center, and The Listeners, a new opera by Missy Mazzoli which will premiere at Opera Norway and Opera Philadelphia.