Becoming Our Spaces


The Race 2020 and The Civility Project

While the global pandemic and the enduring harm of white supremacy magnifies challenges that lie ahead, the power of art promises to uplift, unite and disrupt. 

What can we build together when we contend seriously and healthily with our hopes, dreams and fears in this immense moment of culture shift? The Civility Project is a hub for skills-sharing and experimentation in civil dialogue and community trust building at Virginia Tech. Through workshops offered to community groups and schools, and the development of the play The Race 2020 in Southwest Virginia, we seek to better equip ourselves and our community to make decisions, and to build consensus around polarizing topics. Our goal is to integrate arts, technology, and best practices in building empathy and understanding from the social sciences to promote civil discourse.

The Race 2020, originally developed and created by Sojourn Theatre, is an interactive live-streamed performance that combines spectacle and collaborative conversation explore communication and leadership. We ask questions like: “What makes a good leader?”, “How do we stay connected?”,  “Who are the leaders we need right now?”, and “What is the current state of our democracy?” The production blends performance, call and response, question and answer, dance and karaoke into a participatory, highly choreographed and at times improvised exploration.

This productionʼs adaptation is developed and created by Te’Asya Hudson, Keith Patrick McCoy, Diksha Pilania, Courtney Surmanek, Rachel Weis, and Taylor Wood in collaboration with our ensemble and creative team. The Race 2020 in Southwest Virginia was just one of many iterations of Sojourn Theatre's The Race  performed around the U.S. Learn more about this national partnership here. The Race 2020 in Southwest Virginia was made possible in part by a grant and extensive mentorship from Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.

Read the playbill here for a full list of creative team members and reflections on our hybrid online and in-person process.

You can also: 1) Listen to an interview about mine and Taylor Wood’s creative process below; and 2) Watch mine and Todd Schenk’s recent “ICAT Playdate” at Virginia Tech to learn about what The Civility Project is up to in 2021-22.

Photo Credits: 1) Performance Stills: Rachel Weis; 2) Installation Photos & Videos in The Cube at the Moss Arts Center: David Franusich; Zoom Screenshots from workshop with Brittney S. Harris