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Join The Discussion! Telling Immigrant Stories Through Theatre with New York Theatre Workshop

Jerrica White



New York City, center of the universe and smorgasbord of culture, is unsurprisingly revered as the ultimate city of immigrants. Each year, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs commemorates the diversity in our roots through Immigrant Heritage Week. With a theme of “Immigrants are NY: Upholding our Values,” the week-long celebration is ending in the place we call home: the theater.

Mfoniso Udofia’s Sojourners, which had a recent run at Playwright’s Horizon, and Her Portmanteau, open at New York Theater Workshop this weekend. This Saturday, between shows, NYTW is partnering with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to present a special panel with playwright Mfoniso Udofia; Zeinab Eyega, Executive Director of Sauti Yetu; and Bitta Mostofi, Assistant Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Our very own Founder & Editorial Director, Andrew Shade, will moderate the panel on Telling Immigrant Stories Through Theatre.

Jim Nicola, NYTW’s Artistic Director tells us:

“It all had to start, of course, with the compelling voice of an artist. Mfoniso is that. Her work is speaking on the subject of immigration in a specific way.  To be an immigrant and leave the country you were born in takes a particular brand of courage and strength. The conversation is a part of a bigger conversation right now we’re engaging in as a nation and not in the most positive way. This helps see it more on a human level.”

Bitta Mostofi, Assistant Commissioner at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, comments:

“When we tell our immigrant stories, we bring others into our history, our successes and our struggles. During Immigrant Heritage Week, we are so proud to have the opportunity to work with New York Theatre Workshop and award-winning playwright Mfoniso Udofia to use theatre as a medium for this dialogue. Art, and particularly theatre, have always been sites of public discourse and truth telling. By partnering with the New York Theatre Workshop on this panel at the close of Immigrant Heritage Week, we showcase once more how important cross-cultural celebration and exchange are to the vitality of our City, where 40 percent of residents are foreign-born.”

Join us for the panel, but don’t miss your opportunity to step into two chapters in the poetic world of The “Ufot Cycle,” chronicling the wins and losses of the matriarch of a Nigerian family. Tickets to Sojourners and Her Portmanteau can be found here.

The panel is Saturday, April 22, 2017, from 5:45 PM – 6:30 PM at the New York Theatre Workshop. 79 East 4th Street New York, NY 10003


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Events and Happenings

Erika Dickerson-Despenza Addresses Flint Water Crisis with Cullud Wattah

Drew Shade



Playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza

There is limited seating left for Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s new play CULLUD WATTAH at The Public Theater. Opening today, Thursday, March 7th and running until Sunday, March 10th in the Public Studio is about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

“It’s been 936 days since Marion’s family has had clean water. When local activists file a class action lawsuit against the city, Marion—a third-generation employee at General Motors—must decide how best to support her two daughters, sister, and mother while lead seeps into the community, their home, and their bodies. As corrosive memories and secrets rise among them, the family wonders if they’ll ever be able to filter out the truth.”

2018 Relentless Award Semifinalist and poet-playwright makes her Public Theater debut with CULLUD WATTAH directed by Lilly Award winner Candis C. Jones; the cast includes Deonna Bouye (Marion), Alana Raquel Bowers (Reesee), Caroline Stefanie Clay (Big Ma), Nikiya Mathis (Ainee), and Kara Young (Plum).

The creative team includes Production Stage Manager Gregory Fletcher, Stage Manager Priscilla Villanueva, and Movement Director Adesola Osakalumi. Along with scenic design by Arnulfo Maldonado, Costume Design by Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene, lighting Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, and sound design by Megan Culley

We believe in this work so much we’re giving away 4 tickets to the performances on March 10th. 2 tickets to the matinee and two the evening performance thanks to our founder Drew Shade and actress/playwright Jocelyn Bioh. Go to our Instagram to find out how!

Also, find out more about how you can help the Flint Water Crisis and support this show HERE.

Listen to Erika talk about her work on an episode of Off Book Podcast below

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Events and Happenings

Surely Goodness and Mercy by Chisa Hutchinson Begins Off-Broadway

Broadway Black



Performances begin today, Tuesday February 26th, for the New York premiere of  Surely Goodness and Mercy, presented by Keen Company. A story about an exceptional boy living a troubled life in Newark, NJ who does a good deed for an often unnoticed person.   Sarita Covington, Jay Mazyck, Brenda Pressley, Courtney Thomas, and Cezar Williams star under Jessi D. Hill’s direction.

Set in an under-funded public school in Newark, Surely Goodness and Mercy by rising playwright Chisa Hutchinson, tells the story of a bible-toting boy with a photographic memory who befriends the cantankerous old lunch lady. Against all odds, Tino and Bernadette help each other through the mess of growing up and growing old.  

Surely Goodness and Mercy has spent the last year charming audiences across the country: “Notably absent from Hutchinson’s frank and sobering story: cynicism” – Chicago Reader; “(Surely Goodness and Mercy has) a soul-stirring quality, touching audiences with its sincerity” – Daily Utah Chronicle; “it’s impossible not to like it” – The Salt Lake Tribune. Now, Keen is honored to bring this big-hearted new play to New York for the first time.

Performances for this limited Off-Broadway engagement of Surely Goodness and Mercy will continue through Saturday, April 13th only, with opening night set for Wednesday, March 13th.

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Twitter: @BroadwayBlack

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