Global Taxi Driver

Throughout the world, taxi driving is one of the first jobs accessible to immigrants, often taken on by men who once had (or still have) occupations as farmers, soldiers, doctors, lawyers, revolutionaries, etc. Based on stories collected across the globe, Global Taxi Driver (GTD) is born out of taxi ride experiences and explores the personal narratives of taxi drivers and riders. GTD looks at taxi rides as durational performances that hold profound opportunities for deep insights on social relations. Underscored in this work is the anti-immigrant sentiment sweeping across the U.S. and on the rise in Europe and Asia. Moreover, the recent popularity of ridesharing software imbues the work with urgency, as these services threaten the continued existence of the taxi industry.

GTD is a live, multi-media performance created by an ensemble from both Los Angeles and the Twin Cities. The ensemble of performers embody the stories of the taxi drivers through characters and movement. GTD is a devised ensemble theater process, led by TeAda’s Founding Artistic Director Leilani Chan. Throughout the process, Leilani and the ensemble have remained attentive to the shifts in the taxi driver story through visiting dispatch and centers, interviewing drivers, riders, organizers and civic leaders, and leading workshops with community members and performers. The performance has developed through two residencies in Minneapolis in 2013 and 2014 and a workshop performance at Inner City Arts in Los Angeles in January of 2013.  Leilani began collecting stories years ago when she became interested in the transnational perspective of taxi drivers. When ridesharing services suddenly shot to prominence, Leilani found herself in a unique position to share the taxi drivers’ stories. GTD officially started in 2012.

Global Taxi Driver is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project Co-Commissioned by Intermedia Arts, TeAda Productions, East West Players and NPN. For more information, visit This project is made possible, in part, through a grant from the Network of Ensemble Theater’s Touring & Exchange Network (NET/TEN), supported by lead funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. GTD has been developed with the support of both the Artistic Innovation and ARC grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, and California Stories grant from Cal Humanities.

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Work-in-Progress Performance and Panel Discussion – January 26th, 2013