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The Harlem Renaissance Project

In September of 2020, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois Theatre Jr. Acting Studio created The Harlem Renaissance Project in which they explored poems from the extraordinary African American cultural movement a century before. This was a cherished experience and served the class’ mission of inclusion, decolonization of the canon and expression of our passion and commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement. Adhering to thorough safety standards and COVID protocols, the poems were recited and recorded in The Krannert Center for Performing Art's Tryon Theatre. (runtime: 30 min.)

  • Nisi Sturgis
    Director
    TAME THAT B!#@H
  • • The Measure - Georgia Douglas Johnson
    Writer
  • • Amid the Roses- Alice Dunbar Nelson
    Writer
  • • Nineteen-twenty-nine- William Waring Cuney
    Writer
  • • To The Swimmer- Countee Cullen
    Writer
  • • Your World-Georgia Douglas Johnson
    Writer
  • • Storm Ending by Jean Toomer
    Writer
  • • Cyrenian Speaks – Countee Cullen
    Writer
  • • Common Dust- Georgia Douglas Johnson
    Writer
  • • Reapers- Jean Toomer
    Writer
  • • No Images- William Waring Cuney
    Writer
  • • The Return-Georgia Douglas Johnson
    Writer
  • • Subway Wind- Claude Mckay
    Writer
  • • Romance- Claude Mckay
    Writer
  • • If We Must Die- Claude McKay
    Writer
  • Hoofs- Winifred Waldron
    Writer
  • Drew Brady
    Key Cast
  • Dominque Allen
    Key Cast
  • Ben Mathew
    Key Cast
  • Jimmy Ladd
    Key Cast
  • Haven Crawley
    Key Cast
  • Sarah Clement
    Key Cast
  • Palash Ranjit
    Key Cast
  • Corey Barlow
    Key Cast
  • Emily Albert-Stauning
    Key Cast
  • Antwaun Allen
    Key Cast
  • Greer Durham
    Key Cast
  • Ethan Soloman
    Key Cast
  • Raiya Browing
    Key Cast
  • Gabriel Ortiz
    Key Cast
  • Connor Kamradt
    Key Cast
  • Brandon Whitehead
    Key Cast
  • Bree Kazinski
    Key Cast
  • A. J. Paramo
    Key Cast
  • Illinois Theatre
    Producer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Live Poetry, Live Performance, Concert Film
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    December 23, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    750 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Nisi Sturgis
Director Biography - Nisi Sturgis

Nisi Sturgis is an actress, educator, director, collaborator, and all-around idea gal. She hails from Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a BA in Theatre and Creative Writing. While at UCA she was nominated for, and won, the Kennedy Center American College National Irene Ryan award, and a Williamstown Theatre scholarship in 2001. From there, Nisi went on to pursue her Master of Fine Arts degree in acting and was the youngest person accepted to the Old Globe Graduate Training Program. There, she worked with directors like Dan Sullivan, Darko Tresnjak, John Rando, Jack O’Brien, and Seret Scott. (She wishes there were more women in there, but – we’re working on it.)
From there, Nisi moved to New York City. Her first gig in New York was understudying Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel off-Broadway, starring Viola Davis. (She has a great story about that she can tell you later.) Nisi went on to cast a wide net in regional theatres across the country, spending three years at the Denver Center, returning to the Old Globe, creating a strong body of work at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, becoming a member of the Artistic Collective at the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, and she is honored to be one of “40 Seasons/40 Actors” recognized by the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. She has been fortunate to find many artistic homes over the course of 17 years working professionally as an AEA and SAG member.
 In New York, Nisi served as the acting and audition coach in residence at The Drama Bookshop for about 3 years, she appeared on Broadway as The Woman in The 39 Steps, and off-Broadway as Laura Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’ The Pretty Trap. She also spent a fair amount of her time helping to develop new plays and experimental works with downtown NYC companies, and theatres across the country. Nisi spent five years as the recurring character June Thompson on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and was nominated for a Best Ensemble SAG Award.
More recently, Nisi has been teaching, touring, and continuing to create new work. She spent 6 months on the road with Ayad Aktar’s Disgraced at the Goodman, Seattle Rep, and Berkeley Rep theatres (for which she won a best actress Bay Area Theatre Award), attending 152 talkbacks during the run, followed up by a tour of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville at the Cleveland and Cincinnati Playhouses in which she played 14 characters. She is now an Assistant Professor of Acting at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
During her time at UIUC, she has devised and adapted works of Shakespeare including a student-led ensemble-based exploration of the first half of Hamlet called We Are Hamlet, and Tame That B!#@H - a zoom-conscious adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew produced by the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival and Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.

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Director Statement

My passion for exploring and understanding the human spirit and connection through art, focuses on how original, traditional and historical theatrical practices inform and inspire creative work in a contemporary, multi-screen world. This has included an emerging process of adapting and devising classic work, which I have explored, practiced and produced with UIUC students and fellow members of an Artistic Collective of artists formed originally by the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre.