We are familiar with African art in the form of Zimbabwean contemporary visual artist Kudzanai Chiurai, whose art challenges African regimes and comments on the nature of xenophobia. There is Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of popular novels such as “Americanah” and “Half of a Yellow Sun,” whose work has opened critical dialogue on both feminism and the international African body. There’s Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima, whose film “Sankofa” challenged the way slavery was taught and showed African resistance to slavery on screen. There is also Kenya’s Binyavanga Wainaina, whose well-known guide, “How to Write About Africa,” is a thought-provoking satire chastising all who refuse to truly see Africa, yet remain committed to write about the continent and her people.
These are just a few of the artists that continue to create and imagine a modern, growing, complicated Africa. An Africa that is so dynamic it seeps beyond continental boundary. Of course, like any artistic movement, this African movement also includes the dramatic arts. That is the reason for creating the NOW AFRICA: Playwrights Festival. From their website:
NOW AFRICA: Playwrights Festival is a reading series, conceptualized by playwright Mfoniso Udofia and developed/produced with Chinyere Anyanwu, Ngozi Anyanwu, Erin Cherry and Bashir Solebo. This team will reintroduce New York City to the masters of African Dramatic Literature. These master playwrights include: Ama Ata Aidoo, Tawfiq al Hakim, Wole Soyinka and Ngugi wa Thiong’o. This festival will also introduce New York City to the incoming classes of contemporary African playwrights. Together we will build a home base for the African dramatic artist. All identifying playwrights, authors, performers, historians etc. can and will meet here to view and discuss contemporary African art and build/sharpen skills for continued creation.
This year, the NOW AFRICA: Playwrights Festival, will be held in New York in September 2015. The event will be hosted by the Center for Art & Public Policy, The Institute of Performing Arts at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and Anna Deavere Smith’s Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. Artists such as, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and others will be featured in multiple events to engage both NYU and the greater NYC theater community.
As more information about the event becomes available, Broadway Black will be sure to keep you informed. In the meantime, the non-profit organization is accepting donations on their website for the festival here. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date!