Talvin Wilks

Artistic Leader

Talvin Wilks is a playwright, director, and dramaturg based in Minneapolis and New York City. He has served as a co-writer/co-director/dramaturg for Ping Chong and Company’s ongoing Undesirable Elements series and four productions of Collidescope: Adventures in Pre- and Post-Racial America. Recent directorial projects include the world premiere productions of Parks by Harrison David Rivers at the History Theatre in Minneapolis, MN, Cannabis: A Viper Vaudeville by Baba Israel, Grace Galu and Soul Inscribed at LaMama/Here Arts, and the three-play saga The Till Trilogy by Ifa Bayeza at Mosaic Theatre in Washington, DC. Some of his most significant directorial work has been centered at Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, MN, including The Ballad of Emmett Till and Benevolence by Bayeza, This Bitter Earth by Rivers, The Owl Answers by Adrienne Kennedy and The White Card by Claudia Rankine. His critically acclaimed direction of The Peculiar Patriot by Liza Jessie Peterson is featured in the documentary Angola Do You Hear Us?: Voices from a Plantation Prison by Cinque Northern, which was short-listed for an Academy Award in 2022. He was the dramaturg for Camille A. Brown’s Broadway Revival of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf and for the world premiere of Dreaming Zenzile by Somi Kakoma at New York Theatre Workshop/National Black Theatre. Other dramaturgy credits and collaborations include Between the World and Me (The Apollo), Scat!/Walkin’ with ‘Trane/Hep Hep Sweet Sweet (Urban Bush Women), ink/Black Girl: Linguistic Play/ Mr. TOL E. RAncE (Camille A. Brown and Dancers), and In a Rhythm/A History/Necessary Beauty/ Landing-Place/Verge (Bebe Miller Company). Wilks is an Associate Professor in the Theatre Arts and Dance Department, University of Minnesota/Twin Cities, and is a 2020 McKnight Theater Artist Fellow and a 2022 McKnight Presidential Fellow.

“As a current member of the ALT, I do not see my participation as separate from the longstanding history of the company. As a collaborator, friend and colleague, I have been fully a part of PCC for at least two decades. Although our first collaboration, UE: Seattle, began in 1994, I have worked in earnest with Ping since 2000 when we embarked on back-to-back Undesirable Elements projects, Undesirable Elements/Atlanta and Secret Histories/Charleston. From that point on, I have been in an ongoing artistic dialogue with Ping and truly evolved under his mentorship. In my later works, such as The Till Trilogy, you can see Ping’s direct influence, an influence I have shared in my collaborative works with others.”

Other Projects

The Till Trilogy: Benevolence by Ifa Byeza, Directed by Talvin Wilks
The Till Trilogy: The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza
The Till Trilogy: The Summer in Sumner by Ifa Bayeza, Directed by Talvin Wilks
The Pecular Patriot