Sojourners & Her Portmanteau OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • Opening Night:
    May 16, 2017
    Closing:
    June 4, 2017

    Theater: NY Theatre Workshop / 79 East 4th Street, New York, NY, 10003

    Synopsis: 

    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 last winter in a limited engagement world premiere production. Her Portmanteau is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

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  • NY TIMES REVIEW OF Sojourners & Her Portmanteau

    For Africans in America, a Temporary Stay Becomes a New Life

    Jesse Green

    May 16, 2017:

    As seen onstage, the story of the arrival of blacks in America is almost always the story of slavery. Even immigrants who arrive willingly get here in despair, if not in chains, then in steerage. From Eugene O’Neill to August Wilson, “Fiddler on the Roof” to “In the Heights,” the newcomer’s drama is usually one of distress and deracination, and, most of all, the impossibility of ever going home.

    That is not the immigration story Mfoniso Udofia tells in the extraordinary “Sojourners” and “Her Portmanteau,” two plays in a projected nine-part cycle about a family of Nigerians in the United States. Instead, Ms. Udofia gives us, in “Sojourners,” a heroine who leaves a relatively privileged life in Nigeria in the late 1970s to study biology at Texas Southern University. Like other members of her country’s “talented tenth,” Abasiama Ekpeyoung and her new husband, Ukpong, come to America not as immigrants but as temporary visitors, as the play’s title suggests. Once their studies are complete, they will immediately return “to refashion their country into a world power.”

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