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Ormond Beach Observer Friday, Dec. 4, 2020 9 months ago

Mainland, FSU grad wins theatrical award

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Tai Thompson, now an award-winning director, hales from Miami and Daytona Beach.
by: Guest Writer

Submitted by Bethune-Cookman University

The Audience Development Committee’S 2020 VIV Awards are in, celebrating the best of Black theatre during the 2019-2020 season. While La MaMa Experimental Theatre’s "The Dark Star from Harlem: The Spectacular Rise of Josephine Baker" was this year’s most nominated musical with eight nominations, the star of the show on this night was director Tai Thompson, who walked away as winner of Best Director of a Musical.

The show captured five of the eight VIV Awards it was nominated for on New York’s Grand night for Black theatre. This was the first AUDELCO nomination and first win for Thompson, who is rapidly becoming one of the hottest young female directors of color on the stage.

“I was honored to be in a position to direct a cast of committed actors who generously lent their talents to the story and brought it to life," Thompson said. "While the nomination might have been a testament to their work, to actually win is a validation of the whole process."

A gifted actress. writer and director based out of New York, Thompson recently directed the critically-acclaimed "Miami Motel Stories: North Beach" in 2020. In 2019 Thompson was a recipient of the Drama League’s prestigious Director’s Project Fellowship and spent a portion of the year in The Classical Fellowship for Directors of Color at the historic Old Globe, in San Diego, California. Earlier that year she was a stage director and choreography foundation observer assisting Timothy Douglas on "The Color Purple" at Portland Center Stage. She was also a 2018 inaugural National Alliance of Musical Theatre Observer assisting Stephen Brackett on the new musical "A.D. 16."

Thompson is a multi-disciplinary artist with a diverse background. She has assisted on large scale productions throughout the US, including "Amparo," an immersive walk-through Cuba’s revolutionary war, "3/Fifths," a macabre carnival and cabaret set in SupremacyLand and the site-specific history series set in historic motels across Miami, "Miami Motel Stories: Little Havana" and the "Miami Motel Stories: MiMo." She wrote and directed the comedic one-woman play "Not Quite Ripe" and is currently writing "Lucky," which focuses on what it really means to love and how one family’s inability to successfully share it affects their community. She recently appeared as Angie in the Essential Theatre’s production of "Err’thing Glitters Ain’t Gold" and is currently involved in developmental work of the new play "A Chance for Redemption," with the New Professional Theatre of New York.

Thompson is a natural when it comes to performing and creating. It’s in her DNA, growing up, she started performing and creating in elementary school in Miami and on through high school at Mainland in Daytona Beach. She continued her growth and exposure at Seaside Music Theatre and summer workshops at Bethune-Cookman University while earning a degree in theatre from Florida State University.

“My formative year’s home in Miami and Daytona Beach cemented my love of the stage and the arts and that’s what home is all about," she said.

The AUDELCO VIV Awards celebrate and honor Black theatre in New York City, mounted by non-profit theatre companies. The 48th-annual Vivian Robinson AUDELCO Recognition Awards were held on Nov. 30 in a digital ceremony. Previous winners of VIV awards include Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Bill Duke, Phylicia Rashad, Joseph Papp, August Wilson, Samuel Jackson, Sanaa Lathan and Joe Morton.

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