Heal the Divide: Spotlight on Taijee Bunch

Blog, Heal The Divide, Playwrights

When I was first mulling over who to invite to participate in our first round of Heal the Divide plays, I knew that I needed to create a diverse line-up of playwrights who were coming from not only from different communities, but from different places in their careers as well.  I immediately thought of a playwriting student of mine at Southern Arkansas University who demonstrated wonderful dramatic potential along with incredible curiosity about the human condition.  On top of that, he’s been writing a play a day since studyingSuzan-Lori Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays collection last Fall.  (Something I’ve only imagined attempting)  When I reached out to Taijee, he jumped at the opportunity to share his perspective with us, and I can’t wait to see what he writes for us over the coming months.

Taijee is from Lonoke, AR – population 4, 245. 

I don’t know about you, but living in a town of 4,245 people is kind of hard for me to imagine.  My husband and I are currently living in Magnolia, AR – population 13,000 – and I’ve had a hard time adjusting to the fact that most of the time it feels like there’s hardly anyone around.  Lonoke is a mere 1/3 of that – WOW!

And even though Taijee is still an undergrad at SAU, he’s already begun making strides towards combining his passion for theatre and love of community.  This summer he participated in the ASTEP program in NYC, an experience that has already impacted his writing since his first play was inspired by work he engaged in while there.

I can’t wait to see the work Taijee shares with us.  As a young Southern playwright, his voice is one we desperately need in the conversation!

Why did you decide to participate in Heal the Divide?

I was very interested in the Heal the Divide project because it was already a huge purpose and goal of mine to do something to help close that gap between the people of this world, and to help us one day see the change we’ve all been working so hard to achieve.

What areas of concern do you find yourself curious about or interested in for this project?

For my community, my concern is that we don’t listen to each other’s concerns. We have a problem of feeling that no one should feel worse than we do. We believe that no one goes through rough times like we do, when really, it’s a reality for everyone. Listening is a necessity for us to create harmony among each other.

Artists making a difference. What do you think we can (or should) do? Are there pitfalls we need to avoid?

I want to answer this question by challenging everyone to smile at someone everyday. Politely force them to realize that you exist, that they exist. Stay curious, not convicted. Always consider another person’s feelings and existence in this world.

What questions as a playwright are you drawn to explore in your work?

I want to explore why there isn’t much inclusion for minorities in the big areas of theater.

Do you have any other additional thoughts/ideas you want to riff on that pertain to this project?  

I have recently become an Artist Striving To End Poverty alum or ASTEP for short. Shout out to the family and my family at Southern Arkansas University Department of Theatre!

Do you have any other additional thoughts/ideas you want to riff on that pertain to this project?  

I hope that my message is clear and touches every reader!

More about Taijee:

My name is Taijee DeJohn Bunch. I was raised in Lonoke, Arkansas where I spent most of my life and my entire schooling period. I am a musical theater major at Southern Arkansas University. Outside of playwriting, I enjoy acting, teaching and performing praise dance, playing my trombone/baritone, and singing. I love re-telling a story – devouring peacefully every part of an amazing story and attempting to re-create it with new meanings and inspirations that I hope to show to my audience. My favorite quote I now live by is, “Stay curious, not convicted!”

You can read more about the Heal the Divide initiative HERE

You can read more about all of our Heal the Divide playwrights HERE.




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