• November 14th, 2018
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Daughters of African immigrants use stage to tell of two worlds


Michael Paulson Nigerian death rites can be quite elaborate — even after a funeral, there is often a “second burial” with days of lavish celebration to ease the deceased person’s journey to the afterlife. Ngozi Anyanwu knows this because she’s heard about it from her mother and father, who traveled back to Nigeria to bury their own parents. And she knows that, when the time comes, she will have to do the same for her father, who has spent his entire adult life in the United States, but still expects to be buried in the country where he was born. But what does Ms. Anyanwu, a 35-year-old performer and playwright born in Trenton and raised in Bucks County, Pa., know about Nigerian burial customs? That question, and the puzzle of what it means to be simultaneously connected to and disconnected from the country of one’s family, prompted Ms. Anyanwu to write “The Homecoming Queen,” a new play that opened at the Atlantic Theater Company, an Off Broadway nonprofit. The poignant drama is about a Nigerian-born American novelist who is confronted by her own ambivalent feelings about home and homeland when she returns to visit her dying father. The play is the latest indicator of an emerging trend: American playwrights who are the daughters of immigrants from Africa. Ms. Anyanwu is the fourth female playwright born to African immigrants to have a play produced by a prestigious New York theater in the last two years, and all of the shows have been critical successes. Ms. Udofia: “I felt little pockets of anger and frustration because I wasn’t seeing me or the people that I knew in a very nuanced way on stage, so I started writing them to show that we are here.”  “You can complain about how your culture is depicted, or you can do it yourself,” Ms. Anyanwu said. “That’s why you’re seeing a bubbling up of first-generation African stories. We have not been feeling satisfaction with the kind of African stories being told, so we have to do it.” Africa.com
New Era Reporter
2018-02-02 11:56:00 9 months ago

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