DAY 1 – October 22


On September 3, 2015, freelance journalist, Zipporah Gene’s article, “Black People Please Stop Appropriating African Clothing and Tribal Music,” set the internet on fire. It felt like a line had been drawn in the sand. Some agreed with Ms. Gene. Some virulently disagreed. What cannot be denied is that the article sparked conversation. Together we will read Ms. Gene’s article and, with the aid of a panel of academics and historians, we will dissect our feelings and begin our own journey to bridging the continental divide.

Our panelists for the evening are: Keith Josef Adkins, Janvieve Williams Comrie, Gwendolen Hardwick, Jadele McPherson and Mfoniso Udofia


ama-ata-aidooAma Ata Aidoo (Ghana) has distinguished herself as a writer and as a consultant on education and gender issues. She graduated from the English Department of the University of Ghana, Legon, where she was immediately appointed Junior Research Fellow of Advanced Creative Writing Program at Stanford University and, in the early 1980s, a Minister of Education in Ghana. She has travelled widely, and has been appointed Visiting Professor and Distinguished Visiting Professor to the English, Theatre, African, and African American Studies departments in a number of universities and colleges in the United States. She is the Executive Director of Mbaasem, a foundation to support African American women writers and their work.

ngozi-anyanwuNgozi Anyanwu (Nigeria) is an overall Renaissance Woman. Education: University of California San Diego’s (MFA acting) Point Park University (B.A) Acting :The Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Barrington Stage, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and The Mark Taper Forum. TV credits: Limitless, Deadbeat, The Affair Law and Order SVU and Mysteries of Laura and the upcoming show The Deuce. Producer: 1st Generation Nigerian Project, Co-Producer and Director of New Play Development of Now Africa’s Playwrights Festival. Director: She Gon Learn, by Lisa Strum for the Emerging Arts Festival, United Solo Festival, National Black Theater; Black Love. Playwrighting Good Grief, Victory is Ours and The Homecoming Queen. Good Grief was presented as part of the Rising Circle Collective’s 6th annual Ink Tank and the play also received a workshop production at INTAR Theatre. Most recently Good Grief won the Inaugural CTG/Humanitas Award and will have a reading at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Victory is Ours was recently presented as part of the National Black Theatre’s Keep Soul Alive Monday Reading Series. An excerpt of The Homecoming Queen will be presented as part of The Fire This Time’s Inaugural’s Writers group. Anyanwu is also a recipient of the Djerassi Artist Residency

staceyann-chinStaceyann Chin (Jamaican National) is a fulltime writer and activist. Recipient of the 2007 Power of the Voice Award from The Human Rights Campaign, the 2008 Safe Haven Award from Immigration Equality, the 2008 Honors from the Lesbian AIDS Project, the 2009 New York State Senate Award, and the 2013 American Heritage Award from American Immigration Council, she identifies as Caribbean and Black, Asian and lesbian, woman and resident of New York City. Widely known as co-writer and original performer in the Tony award winning, Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway, her poetry has seen the rousing cheers of the Nuyorican Poets’ Café, one-woman shows Off-Broadway, writing-workshops in Sweden, South Africa, and Australia. A proud Jamaican National, Staceyann’s voice was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, where she spoke candidly about her experiences of growing up on the island and the dire consequences of her coming-out there.

tarell-alvin-mccraneyTarell Alvin McCraney is best known for his acclaimed trilogy, The Brother/Sister Plays. They have been performed at: McCarter Theater, The Public Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre, Marin Theatre Company, ACT, and Magic Theatre, as well as the Young Vic in London and around the world. Other plays include The Breach, Wig Out!, Head of Passes and American Trade. Tarell was the Royal Shakespeare Company’s International Playwright in Residence in 2009-2011, where he co-edited and directed the Young People’s Shakespeare production of Hamlet. He is the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Genius Award, the Whiting Award and Steinberg Playwright Award, as well as London’s Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, the inaugural New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, and the inaugural Paula Vogel Playwriting Award.

jelisa-jay-robinsonJelisa Jay Robinson (Morena-American) is a Morena playwright from Houston, Texas. During college, Jelisa wrote her first play Ice Cold Milk and an Oreo Cookie.  Her play The Stories of Us was one of three plays chosen for the Austin Latino New Play Festival (2015) and was produced by Teatro Vivo (2016). Fae and Paciencia commissioned by Echame Un Ojo Latinx Arts festival premiered in 2016.   She was one of 14 playwrights chosen to participate in the first Fornes Playwriting Workshop this year. Robinson is a member of the LatiNegrxs Project and the founder of #Teatrolatinegro, an Afrolatin@ Theatre blog.

Mfoniso Udofia (First Generation Nigerian American)
, is a first generation Nigerian-American storyteller and educator. Mfoniso’s, Ufot Family Cycle plays, Sojourners and Her Portmanteau, will be produced this coming Spring 2017 as part of NYTW’s season. She is also Playwrights Realm’s 2015-16 Page One Playwright and in Winter 2016 they produced the World Premiere of Sojourners. In Spring 2016, The Magic Theater in San Francisco produced the West Coast Premiere of Sojourners and the World Premiere of the third installation in the Ufot Family Cycle, runboyun. Mfoniso is currently working on Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Play On! commission translating Shakespeare’s, Othello. She’s also a proud member of New Dramatists class of 2023.