Boston Court Performing Arts Center presents the West Coast premiere of Her Portmanteau written by Mfoniso Udofia and directed by Gregg T. Daniel, May 24 – June 30, 2018. The production stars Joyce Guy (Abasiama), Omoze Idehenre (Adiaha) and Délé Ogundrian (Iniabasi).
In Her Portmanteau, a family rifles through their literal and emotional baggage in this taut and poignant drama about relatives, legacy, and connection. This family drama, penned by first generation Nigerian-American storyteller Mfoniso Udofia, chronicles the triumphs and struggles of a tenacious matriarch and two daughters. The mother and one of her daughters have called the United States home for many years. And the other daughter’s arrival raises heart-wrenching questions about the power of place, family bonds, and how we define our relationships over space and time. Director Gregg T. Daniel adds, “Mfoniso’s play is a moving examination of the decisions we make and the consequences of those decisions.”
Her Portmanteau, recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award, received its world premiere at New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) in 2017 after having a workshop production at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre. The production was a New York Times “Critic’s Pick” and was called, “A moving and powerful corrective to the notion that what immigrants leave behind is always awful, and that what they find is worth the trip.” Boston Court’s will be the second production of Her Portmanteau.
“I am first generation, and I have one foot in one world and one foot in another,” said Udofia in an interview with American Theatre. She continues, “I started writing because I didn’t see enough of [first generation Americans on U.S. stages]. I just started writing about the people and the stories and I knew that would fulfill the rage from which I started writing. I’ve also crystallized what I love to write about: very strong female protagonists, matriarchs, and legacy, and what is duty and what is desire.”
Her Portmanteau is part of a projected nine-play Ufot Family Cycle, which started in 2009 as a single play, The Grove. Udofia explains in an interview with TheaterMania, “The Grove was my unwiedly, utterly lovable first child. I adored that play. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was only telling a fraction of the life-arc of its characters.”
Since then, the cycle has grown to include Sojourners, runboyrun, In Old Age, Adia and Clora Snatch Joy and Her Portmanteau. Sojourners is the Ufot family origin story, exploring how Adiagha’s parents arrived in the United States and the triumphs and losses endured upon leaving their homeland. runboyrun examines the nature of love between Adiagha’s parents: Abasiama and Disciple Ufot. Next in the cylce, Her Portmanteau, is an exploration in mother/daughter relationships, as the characters try to bridge across two very different worlds. In Old Age considers how abuse can shape relationships and the true nature of love. The nine-play cycle, although currently unfinished, ends with Adia and Clora Snatch Joy: Adiaha’s journey to reconcile her past and imagine new ways forward.
Tickets, priced from $20 – $39, are available at BostonCourt.com or by calling 626.683.6801.
About Boston Court
Located in Pasadena, California, Boston Court is a nonprofit arts center primarily dedicated to new and original work by living artists. Founded in 2003 by philanthropist Z. Clark Branson, Boston Court features a state-of-the-art, intimate facility designed to bring audiences and artists closer together. The 80-seat Marjorie Branson Performance Space and the 99-seat Main Stage serve as homes for Boston Court’s season of bold, risky theatre and its eclectic, diverse music series. Boston Court is also the home of an annual new play festival, an Emerging Artists Series, as well as Art Upfront, a rotating visual arts program. Boston Court is led by a 13-member Board of Directors, Executive Director Kyle Clausen, and Artistic Directors Jessica Kubzansky and Michael Michetti (Theatre), and Mark Saltzman (Music).
Key funding is provided by Los Angeles County Arts Commission, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Shubert Foundation, Lazy L Foundation, The Colburn Foundation, Pasadena Arts & Cultural Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division, Pasadena Art Alliance, and the Z. Clark Branson Foundation.
Cast & Creative Team
Written by Mfoniso Udofia
Directed by Gregg T. Daniel
Abasiama: Joyce Guy
Adiaha: Omoze Idehenre
Iniabasi: Délé Ogundrian
Scenic Design: Tesshi Nakagawa
Costume Design: Wendell Carmichael
Lighting Design: Karyn Lawrence
Sound Design: Jeff Gardner
Properties Design: Erin Walley
Assistant Director: Cortney Wright
Production Stage Manager: Katherine Hoevers
Assistant Stage Manager: Meredith O’Gwynn
Dramaturg: Dylan Southard
Ibibio Language Coach: Ebbe Basey
Casting Director: Michael Donovan
Written by Mfoniso Udofia
Directed by Gregg T. Daniel
May 24 – June 30, 2018
Previews: May 24 – June 1
Press Opening: Saturday, June 2 at 8:00pm
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00pm; Sundays at 2:00pm
PUBlic Discourse Night: Thursday, June 7 (all tickets include a drink token for T. Boyle’s Pub to enjoy after the show)
Community Matinee: Saturday, June 9 (all tickets for the 2pm performance are $5)
Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes; no intermission
Closing: Sunday, June 30 at 2:00pm
Tickets and Information:
Boston Court Performing Arts Center
70 N Mentor Ave. Pasadena, CA 91106
Prices: $20 – $39
Cast & Crew Biographies
Gregg T. Daniel (Director) recently directed Raisin in the Sun at A Noise Within, the West Coast premieres of Tearrance Arvelle Chisolm’s Br’er Cotton for Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble, Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs for Rogue Machine theatre (Ovation-nominated, Best Director), and Home by Samm Art Williams for the International City Theatre (ICT). With Rogue Machine, Gregg directed the L.A. premiere of Honky by Greg Kalleres (nominated Best Director, Comedy). He is a recipient of the 2016 NAACP Best Director award for the International City Theatre’s production of Fences by August Wilson (nominated for L.A. Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, and StageScene LA awards.) Other work includes a revival of Alice Childress’ Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White for the Antaeus Company (Winner Stage Raw Award-Best Revival, Best Ensemble). Additional L.A. credits include Lee Blessing’s Cobb, Eric Simonson’s Lombardi, Frank McGuinness’ Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Broadway World nomination, Best Director), and Tom Stoppard’s translation of Heroes for Group Repertory Theatre. For Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble, he’s directed the West Coast premiere of Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Elmina’s Kitchen (Winner-NAACP’s Best Ensemble). Regionally, he has directed the New Jersey premiere of Katori’s Hall’s The Mountain Top and Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man for Cape May Stage. Gregg is a Founding Member/Artistic Director of Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble (Lower-Depth.com). He is an accomplished actor with over 100 appearances in television and film roles. He is married to actress Veralyn Jones.
Mfoniso Udofia (Playwright) is a first-generation Nigerian-American storyteller and educator, attended Wellesley College and obtained her MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater. During her stay in the Bay, she co-pioneered a youth initiative, The Nia Project, providing artistic outlets for youth residing in Bayview / Huntspoint. In January 2016 Playwrights Realm produced the world premiere of Sojourners, the origin story of the Ufot Family Cycle. 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, in repertory. New York Theatre Workshop produced the New York City return of Sojourners in Spring 2017, which ran in repertory with the world premiere of Her Portmanteau, which was previously developed in 2015 at the National Black Theatre. She’s the recipient of the 2017 Helen Merrill Playwright Award and the 2017-2018 McKnight National Residency and Commission at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. Her Ufot Cycle play, Her Portmanteau, will be produced [Spring 2018] by Pasadena’s Boston Court Performing Arts Center. Mfoniso is also currently at work on a commission from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, translating Shakespeare’s Othello, through their Play On! program. Mfoniso’s plays have been developed at and/or presented/produced by The New York Theatre Workshop, The Playwrights Realm, The Magic Theatre, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre, Hedgebrook, Sundance Theatre Lab, NNPN, 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. Mfoniso was a finalist for the 2015 PoNY Prize, the Eugene O’Neill NPC, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Many Voices Fellowship, Page73 Development Programs, Jerome Fellowship, New York Theatre Workshop’s 20/50 Fellowship, and Lark Playwrights’ Week.
Joyce Guy (Abasiama) Boston Court: Debut. Is a “military brat” raised in various places, a theatre graduate of Hampton University and was a member of DC Black Rep. She has performed at the Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, and LA Women’s Shakespeare Co. Solo works performed at UCLA, 2100 Square Feet, LATC and St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, NY. Screen and television credits: Moneyball, The Santa Clause, Animal Kingdom, Criminal Minds, How To Get Away With Murder, to name a few. She choreographed Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs at Rogue Machine and Raisin in the Sun at A Noise Within; was nominated for an Ovation Award for Les Blancs.
Omoze Idehenre (Adiaha) Regional: Good Grief (The Kirk Douglas); Runboyrun (Magic Theater); Gem of the Ocean, The Convert, Seven Guitars (Marin Theater Company); The Comedy of Errors and Richard III (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Black Odyssey, The Winter’s Tale, Spunk, Macbeth (California Shakespeare Festival); Clybourne Park, Marcus and the Secret of Sweet, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Scorched, A Doll’s House and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (American Conservatory Theater). Film: On The Road.
Délé Ogundrian (Iniabasi) is a first-generation Nigerian-American. Credits include Our Lady of 121st Street (The Victory Theatre Center), Balm In Gilead (Coeurage Theatre Company), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (The Fountain Theatre), Catch The Tiger (Moments Playhouse). Her TV/Film credits include: Wisdom of the Crowd, Ray Donovan, Ugly Betty, Without A Trace, He’s Just Not That Into You, Maniac, as well as national commercials and international print ads. She is also a writer and award-winning film producer. Copyright © 2018 Davidson & Choy Publicity, All rights reserved.
Source: Boston Court Presents The West Coast Premiere Of HER PORTMANEAU