Photos by Joan Marcus
In a two-part theatrical event, NYTW Usual Suspect Ed Sylvanus Iskandar brings to life the singularly poetic world of playwright and NYTW Usual Suspect Mfoniso Udofia’s Sojourners and Her Portmanteau.
Performed in repertory, these two chapters of Udofia‘s sweeping, nine-part saga, The Ufot Cycle, chronicle the triumphs and losses of the tenacious matriarch of a Nigerian family. In Sojourners, a young, pregnant Abasiama struggles with the responsibilities of her arranged marriage as her husband becomes seduced by 1970s American culture. Intent on finishing her university studies so that she can return to Nigeria, Abasiama weighs her dreams and obligations as she attempts to move forward. Decades later, the full impact of her decision erupts when Abasiama’s family is reunited in Her Portmanteau. As Nigerian traditions clash with the realities of American life, Abasiama and her daughters must confront complex familial legacies that span time, geography, language and culture. Presented in two parts, this heartrending pairing probes into the ties that bind mothers and daughters and how we define home.
Sojourners and Her Portmanteau are produced in association with The Playwrights Realm who premiered Sojourners in a limited engagement world premiere production. Her Portmanteau is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.
Broadway: The Crucible (Walter Kerr Theatre). Off Broadway: Father Comes Home From The Wars Parts 1, 2 and 3 (Public Theater), Henry IV (St Ann’s Warehouse), Julius Caesar (Donmar Warehouse and St Ann’s Warehouse), Ruined (Almeida Theatre and Arena Stage. Winner Critics Circle Best Actress Award), Death and The King’s Horseman (National Theatre) and A Raisin In The Sun (Manchester Royal Exchange. Winner M.E.N Theatre Award Best Supporting Actress).
NYTW debut. Off-Broadway: Everybody (Signature Theatre), Sojourners (Playwrights Realm) Regional: Two Trains Running (Arden Theatre Company), The Mountaintop (Playmakers Repertory Company and Triad Stage), In the Red and Brown Water (Marin Theater Company), Spoon Lake Blues (Alliance Theater Company), A Christmas Carol (American Conservatory Theater). Film & TV: Panama Canal Stories, “Boardwalk Empire,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Forever” Education: MFA, The American Conservatory Theater. BA, Spelman College. Lakisha also enjoys creating/producing her own work (short films & web content).
NYTW debut. Broadway: The Trip To Bountiful. Regional: Eclipsed (Yale Rep), The Bluest Eye (Hartford Stage/Long Wharf). Film & TV: Pariah, 12 Years a Slave, The Big Short, Steel Magnolias, The Dinner, “Law & Order,” “Louie”. Cornell University graduate.
Chinasa is reprising the role of Abasiama in Sojourners, for which she received a 2016 Lortel Award nomination. She can currently be seen in the film From Nowhere (SXSW award winner), and the upcoming films What The Night Can Do, and On Monday of Last Week. Ogbuagu’s credits also include recurring roles in “The Following” and “Nurse Jackie.” She is repped by Stone Manners Salners.
Some of Hubert’s stage work includes Sojourners (The Playwrights Realm), The Model Apartment (Primary Stages), Angels in America (Signature Theatre), A Fable (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater), 365 Days/365 Plays (The Public Theater), Nightlands (New Georges), The Tempest (Target Margin), Every Angel Is Brutal (Clubbed Thumb), and the OBIE-winning plays A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes (Women’s Project/New Georges) and A Map of Virtue (13P). Select regional credits include Imogen Says Nothing (Yale Rep), The Lion in Winter (Two River Theater), Blue Door (Seattle Rep), Romeo and Juliet (The Shakespeare Theater Company), and A Raisin in the Sun (Westport Country Playhouse directed by Phylicia Rashad). Television appearances include “The Path” (Hulu), “Happyish” (Showtime), “The Good Wife” (CBS), “Law and Order: SVU” (NBC), “Over/Under” (USA), and “Black Jack” (Comedy Central pilot). He can be seen in the upcoming films Trouble by Theresa Rebeck and Where is Kyra?. He trained at NYU and is a YoungArts award recipient.
Chinaza is a New York Based, Nigerian American, Actor/Performer/Writer. He was born in Edinburgh Scotland, and lived in London England, until he immigrated to the US at the age of 14. He has a BFA in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. While at Tisch, he studied at the Experimental Theatre Wing and the Classical Studio. His Film and TV credits include: Ricki and the Flash (Starring Meryl Streep), Mother Of George (Sundance, starring Isaach De Bankole and Danai Gurira), Terry Richardson’s Last Hours (Cannes) and episodes on “Golden Boy” (CBS), “Deception” (NBC) and “Blue Bloods” (CBS). In New York he has worked with The Transport Group, Playwright’s Realm, LAByrinth Theater Company, La Mama, The National Black Theatre and now New York Theatre Workshop. He has also worked regionally at Seattle Repertory Theatre (Seattle, Washington) and the Everyman Theatre (Baltimore, Maryland). He also hosted wild dance shows with The Dance Cartel, and is a member of The Hartbeat Ensemble and Flux Theatre Ensemble. www.chinazauche.com
Mfoniso a first generation Nigerian-American storyteller and educator, attended Wellesley College and obtained her MFA in acting from the American Conservatory Theater. She co-pioneered the youth initiative The Nia Project, providing artistic outlets for youth residing in Bayview/Huntspoint. Mfoniso is currently working on Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Play On! commission translating Shakespeare’s Othello. She’s also the Artistic Director of the NOW AFRICA: Playwrights Festival and a proud member of New Dramatists class of 2023. Mfoniso’s plays have been developed and/or produced by New York Theatre Workshop, The Playwrights Realm, Magic Theatre, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre, Hedgebrook, Sundance Theatre Lab, Space on Ryder Farm, NNPN New Play Showcase, Makehouse, Soul Productions, terraNOVA, I73, The New Black Fest, Rising Circle’s INKTank, At Hand Theatre Company, The Standard Collective, American Slavery Project, Liberation Theatre Company and more. Follow her at www.mfonisoudofia.com.
ED is a director, dramaturge and educator of new works, classics, musicals, immersive and durational experiences, considered by the U.S. government to be an “alien of extraordinary ability.” Ed concurrently serves as Artistic Director of the Lincoln Center Global Exchange. New York: Sojourners (Playwrights Realm); Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (NAATCO); The Mysteries, Restoration Comedy and These Seven Sicknesses (The Flea); The Golden Dragon (PlayCo).Regional:The Taming of the Shrew (STC); Head Over Heels (OSF). Honors: Inaugural SDCF “Breakout” Award (2016) recognizing “the ‘rising star’ moment of a director”; Drama Desk Special Award (2014) for “bold and visionary direction” of The Mysteries and The Golden Dragon; NTC Emerging Artist Award (2013) as founding artistic director of Exit, Pursued By a Bear; Drama Desk nominations for Restoration Comedy (2013) and These Seven Sicknesses (2012). NYTW Usual Suspect and proud alumnus of Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and the Drama League. www.ediskandar.com
NYTW debut. Off-Broadway: The View Upstairs (Culture Project, 2017 Lortel Nomination), Songbird (59E59), Sojourners (Playwrights Realm), The Mysteries and Squash (The Flea). Regional: Old Globe, Signature Theatre, Denver Center, 5th Avenue, Shakespeare Theatre, Goodspeed, Alliance, Studio Theatre, Ford’s, KC Rep. Henry Hewes Design Award nominee. LiveDesign Magazine “Designer to Watch.” NYU grad.
NYTW debut. New York: The NY Mysteries, Restoration Comedy, These Seven Sicknesses (The Flea Theater), Ludic Proxy, The Golden Dragon (Play Company), Regional: Period Of Animate Existence (Pig Iron), Head Over Heels (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Taming Of The Shrew (Shakespeare Company) 2013 and 2014 Drama Desk Nominee
NYTW debut. Recipient of the OBIE AWARD. NY credits: Ugly Lies The Bone (Roundabout), brownsville song (LCT3), Goldberg’s Variation (BAM Next Wave), The Dance and the Railroad (Signature Theatre), T. 1912, Peter and the Wolf (Guggenheim Museum). Regional: Studio Theatre, Guthrie, Bekeley Rep, Old Globe, OSF, Yale School of Drama.
NYTW: Stuck Elevator. West End: Buried Child (ATG). Off-Broadway: Sojourners (Playwrights Realm), Buried Child (New Group), Charles Francis Chan….(NAATCO), Golden Dragon (PlayCo). Regional: …Shrew (Shakespeare Theatre Co), Peerless (Barrington Stage). Film & Radio: Radiolab, 2 Dope Queens, Nancy (WNYC); Under Milk Wood (BBC). Other: Tenement Museum, Cook’s Science Live.
NYTW: Nat Turner in Jerusalem. Broadway: Finding Neverland, Waitress. Off-Broadway: Barbeque (The Public); Our Lady of Kibeho (Signature); Invisible Thread (Second Stage). National Tour: The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Finding Neverland. Site Specific: Ragtime on Ellis Island. Head of Voice and Speech for New Studio on Broadway/NYU.
NYTW: A Park in Our House. Broadway: Having Our Say, Anna in the Tropics. Off-Broadway: Club Diamond (UTR), Memory Rings (BAM). Regional: Bel Canto (Lyric Opera of Chicago), The Good Book (Court), Appropriate (Humana), The Good Negro, Trinity River Plays (DTC), 14 seasons at McCarter.
NYTW debut. Selected Off-Broadway: Kingdom Come (Roundabout); Sojourners (Playwrights Realm); Travels With My Aunt, John & Jen (Keen Company); SeaWife (Naked Angels); I See You, The Mysteries, Restoration Comedy; These Seven Sicknesses; Kaspar Hauser (The Flea); Dani Girl (EPBB); The Opponent (A Red Orchid Theatre).
NYTW: Red Eye to Havre de Grace. Broadway: The Price (Roundabout); The Snow Geese (MTC), The Country House (MTC). Off-Broadway: Sleep No More; Invisible Thread (Second Stage); Choir Boy (MTC); Stuffed (Women’s Project). Regional: Crossing: A New American Opera, The Donkey Show (A.R.T.). Emerson College BFA Stage Management.
NYTW debut. Broadway: Fiddler on the Roof, Burn the Floor. Regional: Rock of Ages (Gateway), Nice Work If You Can Get It (Ogunquit), Carnival (Goodspeed), Toys in the Attic (Pearl), Metamorphoses (FST).