New York Theater Workshop (NYTW) is set to bring life to the extraordinarily poetic work of celebrated Nigerian-American playwright Mfoniso Udofia this April with live performances of her two most-popular plays “Sojourners” and “Her Portmanteau.”
Directed by NYTW’s Ed Sylvanus Iskandar, the two plays will be performed in repertory, with popular artists, such as Chinasa Ogbuagu, Adepero Oduye, Chinaza Uche, Jenny Jules, Lakisha May, and Hubert Point Du-Jour, expected to feature in the month-long theater performance.
“It is so exciting and I truly hope audiences see both shows! The decision to pair these two shows together allows audiences to follow the maternal line [of the main character ‘Abasiama Ufot‘],” Udofia told Face2Face Africa in an interview.
NYTW will present the predicament of Abasiama as she lands in the United States, where she has to make the most difficult choice of her young life in “Sojourners.”
She must choose between the Nigerian and American dream as she struggles with the responsibilities of an arranged marriage. The young, pregnant Abasiama also has to deal with the problems of an irresponsible husband who becomes seduced by the 1970s American culture.
“In ‘Her Portmanteau,’ audiences can expect to see Abasiama reckon with that life-altering decision 36 years later,” Udofia adds.
The two shows will begin on April 22nd and run until June 4th this year.
Udofia says audiences shouldn’t worry about the order in which they see the two shows because they are meant to be watched in any order.
In why she created the plays, Udofia says that her greatest motivation is to offer African migrants and their children in the United States a sense of belonging and a platform to celebrate their identity.
“I hope to build a platform for immigrants and first-generation children to see themselves represented roundly on the American stage,” Udofia says.
This effort is well-represented in her projected nine-play collection Ufot Family Cycle, which is comprised of famous plays, such as “Sojourners,” “Her Portmanteau,” “In Old Age,” and several others.
An Illustrious Career
Udofia is a first-generation Nigerian-American storyteller, educator, and playwright who has authored several prominent plays.
She is currently working on Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s “Play On,” a commission translating Shakespeare’s “Othello.”
The young playwright is also the artistic director of the “Now Africa: Playwrights Festival” and an active member of the New Dramatists’ class of 2023.
Udofia is also a co-pioneer of the youth initiative the Nia Project, a youth enterprise providing artistic outlets for youth residing in Bayview/Huntspoint.