At the Table: Ngozi Anyanwu

 

Every month we meet and sit down with women who remind us of what it means to live a BOLD life. Ngozi Anyanwu is a Nigerian-American actress, producer, and playwright who is changing the way we look at the process of healing and discovering our identities through art. Her newest play, Homecoming Queen is currently running at Atlantic Stage 2. Welcome to the table Ngozi Anyanwu!

 

 

Ngozi Anyanwu (playwright) in rehearsal for Atlantic Theater Company’s World Premiere production of Ngozi Anyanwu’s play The Homecoming Queen. Previews begin January 10, opening night January22, 2018 at Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage 2 (330 West 16 Street).

 

 

Tell us about your background, where are you from?

I am a Nigerian American from outside of Philadelphia, but born in Trenton, NJ. I did a lot of schooling. I got my undergrad in theatre at Point Park University in Pittsburgh and then went to grad school in San Diego at UTSD and got my masters in acting. I then moved from New York to LA after grad school and then moved back to New York. Playwrighting has happened for me in the last 2.5 years. 

 

Tell us about the development of Homecoming Queen?

 I had a lot of playwrighting friends tell me that I should work on my next story while I was waiting for my play [Good Grief] to get done. So Homecoming Queen came out quite organically in terms of being a play I was really interested in writing. I was challenged to write the first 52 pages and see how that worked out and then I had gotten a number of workshops and incubators to work on my writing all in a row. While in the process of Good Grief , I had already gotten a couple of drafts done. I was interested in writing my Nigerian play and finding my way into it was a process. I had to ask myself what is my perspective on being Nigerian, Nigerian-American, on being bi-cultural? In the middle of one of my workshops I got offered the production at Atlantic. I had maybe had, not even a full first draft, just and inkling of it, but because I had already had workshops set up to flesh it out, the goal was changed. Knowing that it was getting a production, set up what we were doing with the play. So I had a 2.5 weeks at Harmony, and then 2.5 weeks at New York Stage and Film and was able to go into rehearsals that winter with a little more information about what I was trying to say and write. 

 

Why do you write plays?

Creating more avenues for healing is a big goal of mine. The goal is for people to find their way through healing. Its not necessarily the answer, but its a possible first step. 

 

"I make art to try and work through my stuff. If we are doing it right we are always trying to figure out how to heal."

 

Photo by Ahron R. Foster

 

Talk to us about healing?

Writing and creating has been my means of bringing awareness to the healing process and my {personal} healing. Healing is messy and its not tied up in a bow or easy at all. I go through it all the time, because I am a person.

 

My way of dealing with some of that [varies]. You have your mundane ways like going to the gym and working out or I might go to a friend and talk about it. Or I make some work, I make art to try and work through my stuff. If we are doing it right we are always trying to figure out how to heal. 

 

 

"The five stages Oya
The five stages are Commitment, Dedication, Perseverance, Knowledge,

And Common sense."

 

Talk to us about the five stages of success?

These are actually pulled from my Dad. I think there is a lot of that, that is absolutely true.Commitment, Dedication, perseverance, knowledge, but I think understanding, empathy, or compassion, could be added. 

 

Photo by Ahron R. Foster

 

What is success for you?

Success for me, right now, is if I want to do it again. If I {finish a project] and want to make another play, that was a successful process, if I want to work with the same people, if they want to work with me again, it's successful. If people see the play, and want to come back again, it's successful. If you want to do it again, that's success. 

 

When do you feel the most BOLD?

When I am talking abut my work. I think  feel the most confident when I am talking about my work, even if I am not confident in the work itself. I am confident about the exploration. 

 

Make sure you witness the BOLDness of this powerful company filled with black women. From costume design to direction. You will not want to miss it. Show closes February 18.

 

World Premiere Play
THE HOMECOMING QUEEN
Written by NGOZI ANYANWU
Directed by AWOYE TIMPO
Atlantic Stage 2, 330 W 16th St
Run time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, no intermission

 

A bestselling novelist returns to Nigeria to care for her ailing father, but before she can bury him, she must relearn the traditions she’s long forgotten. Having been absent for over a decade, she must collide with her culture, traumatic past, painful regrets, and the deep, deep love she thought she could never have. Atlantic is thrilled to welcome Ngozi Anyanwu (Good Grief) for her Off-Broadway debut!

 

For tickets click here

 

 

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