Radical Imagination


Can you think of a moment or an experience in which you suddenly had an idea/image of how something might work a whole other way in the world? 
 …  it may well have been a really good idea!
There’s a long history and myriad contemporary practices in which such radical imagination is actually at work – especially in the worlds of theatre and social justice practice.  Robin Kelley and Taylor Mac are remarkable examples of such practitioners.  Tonight they’ll share what inspires their approach, gets them through challenges, and keeps their imaginations alive in their respective practice.  This event kicks off our 2014 Foundry Dialogues (which continue in May), that this year is exploring explore the ways radical imagination is at work in building innovative alternatives to policing and imprisonment practices that strive to build new, authentic safety for us all.


2014 : The Ukrainian Ballroom, NYC


Robin D.G. Kelley




“Without new visions, we don’t know what to build, only what to knock down. We not only end up confused, rudderless, and cynical, but we forget that making a revolution is not a series of clever maneuvers and tactics, but a process that can and must transform us”

Robin Kelley, from “Freedom Dreams”


Robin D.G. Kelley is an author and Professor of History and American Studies at UCLA. Recent books include: Africa Speaks, America Answers:  Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times; Thelonius Monk: The Life and Times of An American Original, and Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination.  He lives with his family and his Baldwin baby grand piano in LA.

“Robin Kelley may be the hippest intellectual in the land … he writes unflinchingly of freedom and love, dreams and visions, and revolts of the mind.”  -The Nation Magazine

“Kelley’s belief is that if we are to make a better world, we must first imagine it.”  -Library Journal

“Robin Kelley produces histories of black radicalism and visions of the future that defy convention and expectation.”   -Angela Davis


Taylor Mac




“Most of all I believe theater is community and I think of myself as a community activist:  someone whose job it is to bring people together, give them a shared experience and remind them of the things they’ve forgotten, dismissed or buried.” 

Taylor Mac


Taylor Mac is a multi-award-winning playwright, singer-songwriter, cabaret performer, actor, performance artist, and sometime director and producer who performs his original works across the world.

“Fabulousness can come in many forms and Taylor Mac seems intent on assuming every one of them.”  -The NY Times

“An unflinching witness to a host of society’s ills… he can have you helpless with laughter, then overcome by an urge to weep — and ultimately left thinking and wanting to make life better.” -The Herald Scotland


Alisa Solomon

Alisa Solomon is a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she directs the MA concentration in Arts & Culture. A longtime theater critic, reporter, and dramaturg, her work has appeared in The Nation, New York Times, NewYorker.com, The Forward, TheDailyBeast.com, American Theater, Tablet, The Drama Review, and other publications, and the Village Voice, where she was on staff as a critic and reporter from 1983 to 2004. Alisa is the author of Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender (winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism). Her latest book, Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, was named an “editor’s choice” in the New York Times Book Review and won the Jewish Journal Book Prize, the George Freedley Memorial Award presented annually by the Theatre Library Association, and the Kurt Weill Prize. As dramaturg, her latest project was Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field.