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CITYWIDE CELEBRATION OF PLAYWRIGHT MFONISO UDOFIA’S ‘UFOT FAMILY CYCLE’ LAUNCHES THIS FALL

CITYWIDE CELEBRATION OF PLAYWRIGHT MFONISO UDOFIA’S  ‘UFOT FAMILY CYCLE’ LAUNCHES THIS FALL

Over the next two years, a consortium of theatre companies and activation partners across  Greater Boston will produce Mfoniso Udofia’s 9-play cycle which follows three generations of a Nigerian American family

Boston’s Ufot Family Cycle represents two years of convening, planning, and investment by The Huntington to incubate and create this one-of-a-kind event 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

CONTACT:  

Gabrielle Jaques, Publicist, The Huntington 

gjaques@huntingtontheatre.org 

617-273-1520 

MEDIA ASSETS available for download here 

UFOT FAMILY CYCLE INFO available here 

(BOSTON) – Greater Boston theatre companies and collaborative partners gathered at Boston’s City Hall today, Tuesday, June 25, 2024, to announce major plans for an ambitious two-year, citywide celebration of the Ufot Family Cycle, a cycle of nine plays about three generations of a Nigerian American family by Massachusetts-raised, visionary playwright Mfoniso Udofia.

The far-ranging list of collaborative partners brings together arts institutions, universities, social organizations, non-profits, and a host of community activation partners across Greater Boston, who will collaborate on the creation and public activation of the cycle. Partners currently include AfroDesiaCity, ArtsEmerson, The Barr Foundation, Boston Arts Academy, The Boston Foundation, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Boston Public Art Triennial, Boston Public Library, Boston Public Schools, Boston University, Central Square Theater, Coolidge Corner Theater, DiasporaMass, Embrace Boston, Facing History & Ourselves, Front Porch Arts Collective, GBH, The Huntington, Kligerman Productions, The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, Next Chapter Podcasts, Nigerian Professionals Group, Northeastern University, Prior Performing Arts Center at the College of the Holy Cross, Roxbury Community College, Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, Wellesley College, Wellesley Repertory Theatre, West End House, Wheelock Family Theatre, and ZUMIX, with others to be announced in the coming months.

All nine plays in the cycle will be fully produced, beginning this fall at The Huntington with its productions of the first play Sojourners, the origin story of the matriarch of the family, and the second play, The Grove, in February of 2025; the following 7 plays of the cycle will be produced by a series of arts organizations and community partners over the next two years through the summer of 2026. Boston’s Ufot Family Cycle includes premieres of five of the plays and marks the first time that the cycle will be experienced in its entirety and in Udofia’s intended order, representing a major collaboration with an expansive scale and scope not imagined elsewhere in the country and only made possible in Boston.

Each of the nine plays will have community activation partners – a unique cohort that brings together disparate segments of Boston’s arts and culture sector to collaborate in new ways, both lifting and generating audiences for the artistic work itself and imagining a new model for institutional collaboration with portals for access to artmaking, civic transformation, and education for all ages.

Four of the plays (Sojourners, runboyrun, Her Portmanteau, and In Old Age) have been previously produced to great acclaim at theatres including New York Theatre Workshop, The Playwrights Realm, Magic Theatre, and American Conservatory Theatre. Udofia’s plays have been called “extraordinary” by The New York Times, which writes that they “offer a moving and powerful corrective to the notion that what immigrants leave behind is always awful, and that what they find is always worth the trip.” New York Theater called them an “enlightening and binge-worthy family saga that updates the story of immigrant America.”

The Ufot Family Cycle represents a profound investment in an artist of great vision, humanity, and humor. Huntington Theatre Artistic Director Loretta Greco envisioned this city-wide festival celebrating Udofia’s work and describes it as “a commitment to cultural aspiration of the highest caliber with the sincere intention of making great art which pushes the culture forward, challenging and revitalizing the American canon.”

Greco continues: “At the same time, the Ufot Family Cycle is a wonderfully crazy experiment – a test balloon for exploring our relationship to risk and the power and complexity of both collaboration and community activation over time. What does it mean to activate an entire city with a unique diaspora story, a story of who we are that unfolds in 9 parts, neighborhood to neighborhood over 24 months? What do we learn from disrupting the way we normally do things to invite a host of unexpected partners to co-create the art and amplify the conversation around that art from all walks of life across many sectors?  My hope is along the way we can create a new paradigm towards working together to get big, messy, aspirational things done.”

INSPIRATION FOR THE UFOT FAMILY CYCLE 

When nationally acclaimed playwright Mfoniso Udofia grew up in Southbridge, Massachusetts and attended Wellesley College, she rarely saw stories about Africans and African Americans that felt like her family. Inspired in part by August Wilson’s Century Cycle, she set out to create an emotionally engrossing cycle of nine plays that follows one Nigerian American family through three generations: parents, children, grandchildren. Each play stands alone brilliantly, yet together forms a stunning tapestry that will resonate with everyone.

“I’m writing these plays for myself, for my immediate family, for my extended family, for the Ibibio community,” says Udofia. “I’m writing us — so we can see us. I believe my work incites community action. When one cares about a character so much they are crying for them, they usually cannot meet a similar person in life and instantaneously judge them. A dramatic telling of an immigrant story, when done well, can cause an audience to change irrevocably in the moment. These audience members will then leave the building and enter their own communities with newfound empathy.”

Mfoniso’s own experience informs the Cycle as her parents immigrated to Texas from Nigeria in the 1970s, had children, and then moved to the Boston area because of the educational opportunities available. Udofia’s mother was a biologist, and her father was a scholar of West African studies. Mfoniso went to Wellesley College, during which time she had her first experience with The Huntington through her Africana Studies class when Professor Selwyn R. Cudjoe took students to see Gem of the Ocean and introduced her to playwright August Wilson (1945-2005). To see herself onstage, reflected in Wilson’s ten-play American Century Cycle, with each set in a different decade of the 20th century about Black American life, was influential years before she would pursue her career in playwriting and return to Wellesley as a faculty member of the Albright Institute.

The New York Times states, “While building empathy is important to Ms. Udofia, as she continues to work on the rest of the ‘Ufot’ plays, she is also unapologetic about the fact that she isn’t writing the Cycle for a traditional theatre audience.” Mfoniso spoke about this during several Boston community meetings in 2023, stating her intentions to be an active participant in meeting community members where they are to inform the making of the remaining Cycle plays.

ABOUT PRODUCING THE FULL UFOT FAMILY CYCLE IN BOSTON 

When Artistic Director Loretta Greco joined The Huntington in 2022, she brought with her a longstanding partnership and friendship with Mfoniso Udofia, and a vision for producing the complete Ufot Family Cycle in the Boston area. Greco previously produced the premieres of three of Mfoniso’s plays – Sojourners, runboyrun, and In Old Age – while helming San Francisco’s Magic Theatre.

Over the past 2 years, The Huntington has hosted salons and gatherings to build a coalition of partnering artists and organizations, in addition to hosting writing residencies and many workshops to develop work in the cycle. In fall 2024, the nine-play Cycle will kick off with The Huntington’s productions of Sojourners (followed by The Grove in 2025). The Huntington will also serve as a motherboard of resources and connection to bolster the creative process and success of the remaining seven productions that will be mounted through 2026 by and with arts organizations, universities, social organizations, non-profits, and a host of community activation partners.

Each of the productions will be professionally filmed by partner Kligerman Productions to expand the reach of the Ufot Family Cycle and preserve it in perpetuity, allowing the Ufot Family Cycle to be taught in educational settings as part of the American theatrical canon.

The Ufot Family Cycle has received support from The Barr Foundation, The Boston Foundation, and the Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation, as well as the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture in the City of Boston.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT  
 
Mfoniso Udofia, a first-generation Nigerian American storyteller and educator, attended Wellesley College and obtained her MFA from the American Conservatory Theater (ACT). While at ACT, she co-pioneered The Nia Project which provided artistic outlets for San Francisco youth.

Productions of her plays Sojourners, runboyrun, Her Portmanteau, and In Old Age have been seen at New York Theatre Workshop, American Conservatory Theater, Playwrights Realm, Magic Theater, National Black Theatre, Strand Theater Company (MD), and Boston Court. She received the 2021 Horton Foote Award, the 2017 Helen Merrill Playwright Award, the 2017-18 McKnight National Residency and Commission, and is a member of New Dramatists.

She is currently commissioned by The Huntington, Hartford Stage, Denver Center, ACT, and South Coast Repertory. Her plays have been developed by Manhattan Theatre Club, ACT, McCarter Theatre, OSF, New Dramatists, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor, Hedgebrook, Sundance, Space on Ryder Farm, and more.

Since 2018, Mfoniso has been working extensively in television; she has worked on such acclaimed shows as 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, A League of Their Own on Amazon, Let the Right One In on Showtime, and Pachinko (Peabody Award), Little America, and Lessons in Chemistry (WGA Nomination) all on Apple TV+. She also has developed films for HBO, Legendary, and Amazon.

ABOUT THE PLAYS OF THE UFOT FAMILY CYCLE 

PLAY ONE – THE ORIGIN STORY 
SOJOURNERS 
by Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: The Huntington
Venue: The Huntington Theatre
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons 
October 31 – December 1, 2024

Mfoniso Udofia launches her sweeping cycle with a family’s origin story. Marriage, migration, and the pursuit of education collide when a young and brilliant Nigerian couple arrives in Houston, looking to earn their degrees and bring insights back to their home country. But when Abasiama discovers that her husband has been seduced by Motown records and American culture, she must choose between the Nigerian Dream and her matriarchal obligations. Director Dawn M. Simmons helms the lively and funny  Sojourners at the historic Huntington Theatre following her acclaimed production of  K-I-S-S-I-N-G  at the Calderwood Pavilion.

POP-UP PERFORMANCES OF SOJOURNERS

The Huntington is also planning free pop-up performances of Sojourners outside the city and in Boston neighborhoods including East Boston with ZUMIX, Roxbury with Roxbury Community College, and Hyde Park. (East Boston has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents of any Boston neighborhood, Hyde Park is home to the Yoruba Community of Massachusetts, whose programs improve and enhance Yorubas and Nigerian immigrants’ social and economic well-being; and Roxbury has been known for being the center of Black life in Boston for decades). In addition, The Huntington will partner with Prior Performing Arts Center at College of the Holy Cross to bring the production to Central Massachusetts, where Udofia grew up and where one in five Worcester residents are immigrants.

Kyle Frisina, The Prior Performing Arts Center at College of the Holy Cross, Interim Director: “The Prior Performing Arts Center is honored to partner with The Huntington to bring Mfoniso Udofia’s Sojourners to Holy Cross and to Worcester, a city known for its rich tapestry of immigrant experiences. We can’t wait for audiences to encounter this beautiful, funny play by a writer whose own immigrant parents made Central Massachusetts their American home.”

Marisa Jones, Roxbury Community College, Adjunct Professor of Theatre: “Roxbury Community College is thrilled to partner with The Huntington to bring Mfoniso Udofia’s Sojourners to the Performing Arts Center this fall. The Ufot Cycle is a celebration of the African Diaspora and will resonate with many in our community as it captures stories of immigration, family, and Black Joy.” Marisa Jones is also The Huntington’s Associate Director of Education & Practical Learning, where she will be managing the creation of curriculum guides for all nine plays in the cycle.

Madeleine Steczynski, ZUMIX Founder and Executive Director: “ZUMIX loves The Huntington, and we are thrilled to partner with them in new and creative ways! Together, we are building on each other’s strengths to reach new audiences, and to inspire hope.”

PLAY TWO 
THE GROVE 
by Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: The Huntington 
Venue: Calderwood Pavilion / Wimberly Theatre
Directed by Awoye Timpo 
February 7 – March 9, 2025

Playwright Mfoniso Udofia stages a family homecoming, asking what it means to draw on the wisdom and beauty of our ancestors when the bonds of family are stretched to the limit. Abasiama’s eldest daughter Adiaha wants to become a writer to make her family proud, but at her graduation party, she has to choose: fulfill her parents’ desires to settle with a traditional Nigerian man, or stay true to her own romantic match. Director Awoye Timpo (The Bluest Eye at The Huntington) reunites with longtime collaborator Udofia for a play with the rich heart of a family drama against the thrilling theatrical backdrop of a Greek chorus of ancestors.

PLAY THREE 
runboyrun  
by Mfoniso Udofia
Produced as an audio play adaptation by: Next Chapter Podcasts in partnership with GBH 
With readings held at Boston Public Library – Central Library & Roxbury Branches 
February/March 2025

What happens when a civil war ends politically – but continues inside the body? When does trauma become tradition? Every day, Disciple and Abasiama relive the same day over and over from the Biafran War. The survival of their 30-year marriage depends on building new vocabularies and daring, once again, to live moment by moment.

Michael Colford, Director of Library Services at Boston Public Library: “The Boston Public Library is incredibly excited to partner again with The Huntington on such an ambitious and innovative project alongside such a diverse and wonderful group of community organizations. This exciting and varied cycle of plays allows communities to experience a wide range of experiences to absorb and to share.”

 Susan Goldberg, President and CEO of GBH: “We are honored to join with The Huntington and their citywide partners for the celebration of Mfoniso Udofia’s Ufot Family Cycle. This ambitious undertaking brings together an incredible cohort of partners across the culture sector, shining a light on the immigrant experience through both art and community. We look forward to playing a role in its success.”

Michael Goodfriend, Head of Scripted Fiction at Next Chapter Podcasts: “Mfoniso Udofia’s storytelling genius should be experienced by as many people as possible and in as many mediums as possible. It’s a privilege for Next Chapter Podcasts to be working with Mfoniso on runboyrun, building on the fruitful collaboration we shared in the award-winning podcast adaptation of her Othello translation for Play On Shakespeare. Mfoniso challenges us to perceive our reality in new ways and reminds us of what it is to be human, in all our complexity, promise, and fallibility. We are honored to help realize runboyrun as an audio production alongside all the incredible producing and organizational partners who are helping bring Mfoniso’s groundbreaking Ufot Family Cycle to life.”

PLAY FOUR 
HER  PORTMANTEAU  
by Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: Central Square Theater and Front Porch Arts Collective 
Venue: Central Square Theater
Directed by Tasia A. Jones 
March 27 – April 20, 2025

What happens when there are two “first-born” daughters with the same mother? Can the two women both inherit Abasiama’s birthright? Her Portmanteau is an explosive story of betrayal and forgiveness, centering on a Nigerian mother in the U.S. and her daughters who lived very different lives. A reunion forces them to reconcile their past full of clashing traditions, and a family legacy that spans time, culture, and generations.

Lee Mikeska Gardner, Artistic Director of Central Square Theater: “Collaboration is in Central Square Theater’s DNA. We couldn’t be more excited to work with Front Porch Arts Collective and other organizations across the region to bring Mfoniso Udofia’s world to our stages. Her Portmanteau is a beautiful chamber play about three tenacious women, and it’s a perfect fit for us.”

PLAY FIVE 
KUFRE N’ QUAY  
by Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: Boston Arts Academy; with advisory support from The Huntington and in collaboration with Wheelock Family Theatre 
Venue: Boston Arts Academy Main Stage in the Fenway
July 2025

How do we navigate the contrast between African and Black American culture? Can love bridge a transcontinental divide? A 12-year-old African boy arrives in New York’s Little Senegal and joins a youth center. What happens when he falls in love with an African American girl?

Maura Tighe, Boston Arts Academy Artistic Director: “We are eager to explore this relationship with The Huntington, Ms. Udofia, and her amazing play, Kufre n’ Quay. The project is an opportunity for our students to engage in high-level art-making and also explore work that is culturally relevant to their lives. The experience is going to be phenomenal for our kids.”

Nick Vargas, Executive Director Wheelock Family Theatre: “Wheelock Family Theatre is excited to partner on the Ufot Family Cycle! This historic initiative will provide audiences from Greater Boston & beyond with the opportunity to experience and celebrate the work of Mfoniso Udofia.”

PLAY SIX 
THE CEREMONY 
by Mfoniso Udofia
Produced with support from Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and Boston University College of Fine Arts
Fall 2025

What can our parents give us – especially when those gifts were not given to parents themselves? Disciple’s only son Ekong prepares for his wedding day – but to gather what he needs for the ritual, he must ask his father, still torn apart by war.

Megan Sandberg-Zakian, Artistic Director of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre: “Boston Playwrights’ Theatre is dedicated to the voice and vision of the playwright – and so nothing could be more exciting to us than participating in a hugely ambitious project designed to uplift the voice and vision of an extraordinary (and locally grown!) writer like Mfoniso. We are honored and delighted to be a part of the laboratory in which the Ufot Family Cycle is nurtured, and we are particularly thrilled that so many of the plays will be first or second productions of new work.”

Harvey Young, Dean of Boston University College of Fine Arts: “I am inspired by Loretta Greco’s vision to bring Boston’s theatre community together. As both a longtime collaborator with The Huntington and the sponsor of two Boston professional theatres—Wheelock Family Theatre and Boston Playwright’s Theatre, Boston University is thrilled to join in this celebration of new work and transformative artistry.”

PLAY SEVEN 
LIFTED 
by Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: Wellesley Repertory Theatre 
Featuring songs created with Nehemiah Luckett  
Directed by Tamilla Woodard
Winter 2026

What does it mean to come from a culture that believes you cannot steal what is already yours? Brilliant scholar Toyoima Ufot’s lonely path in academia was built directly on her father Disciple’s work. After she is accused of plagiarism, she travels to Nigeria, a journey that both unleashes her history and heals.

Marta Rainer, Wellesley Repertory Theatre Artistic Director: “We Wellesley College graduates who have been galvanized by the impactful possibilities within the field of live performing arts are Wellesley Rep. We who strive to connect with, teach, encourage, and gather our communities through the sharing of our complex theatrical work define Wellesley Rep as a global and multigenerational repertory of autonomous makers, striding our unique creative paths from the shared starting point of Wellesley College. Mfoniso embodies this mission so exquisitely – so inspiringly! – and we are extremely honored to support this expansive collaboration with our producing peers to share her artistic voice and vision.”

PLAY EIGHT 
IN OLD AGE  
by Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: ArtsEmerson and Front Porch Arts Collective 
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
Spring 2026

Can we continue to evolve in our final years? Abasiama still lives in the same house after her husband’s death. Soon she learns the true nature of love with an unlikely new partner, the church-going carpenter Azell, and her life takes a new turn. A clean house and a healed soul frees Abasiama to embark on the last love voyage of her life.

Ronee Penoi, Interim Executive Director of the Office of the Arts at ArtsEmerson and Director of Artistic Programming: “ArtsEmerson is delighted to be in partnership with our friends at Front Porch Collective to support In Old Age as part of the Ufot Family Cycle. At ArtsEmerson, we are committed to uplifting stories that inspire civic transformation and celebrate the diasporas that make up our city. We also know we can’t do this work alone and we are so excited to join The Huntington and all the other producers and partners to embark on this beautiful collaboration for the city and community we love.”

PLAY NINE  
ADIAHA AND CLORA SNATCH JOY (a folk opera)  
by Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: Boston Lyric Opera and The Huntington 
Venue: The Huntington Theatre
A folk opera featuring songs created with Nehemiah Luckett 
Part of Embrace Boston’s Everyone 250 Festival
June/July 2026

Daughter Adiaha travels to South Carolina in search of her mother’s partner, Azell. Instead, she finds Clora – and a strangely familiar house in Gullah South. Sparks fly as they fight, make messes, and work to understand their history. Together, Adiaha and Clora imagine new ways forward, guided by spirit women who push them into their destiny.

Nina Yoshida Nelsen, Boston Lyric Opera Artistic Director: “Co-producing Adiaha and Clora Snatch Joy with The Huntington is going to make an exhilarating end to the Ufot Family Cycle project. Mfoniso’s brilliant, expansive series tells the kind of rich story we love bringing to audiences. This striking folk opera will be a unique and uplifting addition to BLO’s artistic offerings. As the only Ufot Family Cycle production with singing, we are delighted to participate in this epic collaboration across Boston’s theatrical institutions.”

PRAISE FOR THE UFOT FAMILY CYCLE 

“Extraordinary! Even though the plays are specifically about Nigerian immigrants, the themes are universal.” – The New York Times 

“Udofia embodies a certain playwriting sensibility of today’s American theatre – embracing a plurality of identities, a willingness to allow the interior lives of her characters to reveal themselves in unexpected ways, and a penchant for small details as stand-ins for big events.” – KQED, Bay Area NPR

“Udofia upends preconceptions and expectations with a deeply felt perspective on parent and sibling relationships, immigration, communication, social media perceptions of lives and identities of people split between the American melting pot and Nigeria.” – New Jersey Stage 

“An enlightening and binge-worthy family saga that updates the story of immigrant America.” – New York Theater

 
ABOUT THE UFOT FAMILY CYCLE PRODUCING PARTNERS: 

ARTSEMERSON is the professional presenting and producing organization at Emerson College, and its mission is to bring people together to experience powerful performances that delight, provoke, and inspire, celebrating both our differences and common humanity. Founded in 2010 by Robert J. Orchard — the year the U.S. Census confirmed there was no single cultural majority in Boston — ArtsEmerson is committed to building a cultural institution that reflects the diversity of our city. Our imaginative and globe-spanning live and virtual performances, films, and conversations invite each of us to be part of a Boston that is more creative, equitable, and connected. ArtsEmerson is led by Interim Executive Director of the Office of the Arts & ArtsEmerson Director of Artistic Programming, Ronee Penoi. For more information visit ArtsEmerson.org.

BOSTON ARTS ACADEMY is a full-inclusion public high school for the visual and performing arts, with students in Grades 9-12. It is a joint project of the Professional Arts Consortium, Inc., and the Boston Public Schools. Boston Arts Academy serves as a laboratory and a beacon for artistic and academic innovation, preparing a diverse community of aspiring artist scholars to be successful in their college or professional careers and to be engaged members of a democratic society. Boston Arts Academy offers pathways to success through a rigorous arts-based, college preparatory academic curriculum and a competitive arts curriculum. A proven model for artistic and academic ideation, BAA has transformed the lives of more than 1,500 city youth. Since its founding in 1998, Boston Arts Academy has successfully fostered a culture of student achievement for Boston youth with unprecedented results. We believe that the arts help young people find their voices, build creative problem-solving skills, and engage in meaningful ways with their communities leading to success in college and careers. Our arts curriculum encourages innovation, creative risk-taking, and professionalism.

BOSTON LYRIC OPERA: Over its nearly 50 years producing opera in Boston, Boston Lyric Opera’s (BLO) mission is to build curiosity, enthusiasm and support for opera through compelling experiences that connect, inspire and reflect our community. With more than 170 performances each year on main stages, in school-based youth performances, and through free public concerts, BLO tells stories that reflect the diversity of our community. Learn more about BLO at blo.org.

BOSTON PLAYWRIGHTS’ THEATRE: Founded in 1981 by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (BPT) is an award-winning professional theatre dedicated to new works for the stage. Located on the campus of Boston University, we produce a season of new work, an annual “marathon” of ten-minute plays, and a festival of teenage writers.  Under the leadership of Artistic Director Megan Sandberg-Zakian, Associate Professor of the Practice and head of the MFA in playwriting Nathan Alan Davis, and Managing Director Darren Evans, BPT focuses on first and second productions of new plays by living writers, and on processes designed to support both the playwright and the play. We have a deep investment in Boston and Boston-adjacent artists; we look for projects that center vital questions in the lives of those in our region and seek the amplification of voices in our communities that have been historically silenced or ignored. As the home of the Boston University MFA in Playwriting, we nurture the work of our graduate students through workshops and developmental productions. In addition, MFA Playwrights are closely involved in all facets of BPT—backstage, front of house, and everywhere in between, from education programs to social media management to curation and season selection. Our alumni have had their work produced around the country and the world, and include Melinda Lopez, Ronán Noone, Molly Smith Metzler, Zayd Dohrn, Alexis Scheer, Eliana Pipes, and Karen Zacarías, among many other extraordinary writers and humans.

CENTRAL SQUARE THEATER (CST) explores social justice, science and gender politics through theater. Combining artistic excellence, cross disciplinary collaboration and community engagement, CST creates theater where points of view are heard, perspective shifts, and change can happen. Central Square Theater, the oldest female-led theater organization in Greater Boston, is now one organization upholding the values and theatrical excellence of its origin companies, Underground Railway Theater and The Nora. Under the leadership of Executive Director Catherine Carr Kelly, Artistic Director Lee Mikeska Gardner, Director of Education and Community Initiatives Kortney Adams, and its Board of Directors, CST is an innovator in the nonprofit arts field in collaborative leadership. Central Square Theater engages over 35,000 people annually through live performance, rigorous youth education, and community programs. CST works closely with MIT on Catalyst Collaborative@MIT (CC@MIT), one of the only nationwide partnerships between a world class research institute and a professional theater. CC@MIT creates and presents plays that deepen public engagement with science, while providing creative and emotional experiences not available in other forms of dialogue about science.

FRONT PORCH ARTS COLLECTIVE is a Black theatre company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theatre. Founded in 2016, our core values are cultural inclusion, community advancement, and creating an impactful legacy. The Porch is part of a Black cultural renaissance in Boston that centers the city’s Black and African Diasporic communities. We are the vanguard rewiring Boston’s racist history to make Boston a top destination for Black talent to work and make a home. We are part of the new cultural place-making in Boston. Our work primes people to value, seek out, and support culturally specific arts offerings. By creating an atmosphere where people see the world through differing experiences, we foster a greater understanding of the human condition building tolerance and empathy in our world. Our namesake signifies a communal spirit, inspiring us to serve communities of color and produce art that is inclusive of all communities and welcoming to all audiences, inspiring a more tolerant and inclusive Boston. The Porch is a place where the perspectives and experiences of Black people are not a novelty, but an integral part of the global conversation.

Dawn M. Simmons, Co-Producing Artistic Director: “For Front Porch Arts Collective to be a part of the Ufot Family Cycle and to bring Mfoniso Udofia’s powerful narratives to stages around Greater Boston is truly an honor and a joy. Her storytelling skills are enhanced by the distinct voice and perspective she brings. In kicking off with Sojourners at The Huntington this fall, (which I am honored to direct), and continuing with Her Portmanteau (co-produced with Central Square Theater next spring), and In Old Age (co-produced with ArtsEmerson in 2025/26), The Porch team is excited to share these compelling stories. The Ufot Family Cycle resonates deeply with our mission to bring communities together by telling stories from the African Diaspora. This collaboration is a significant moment for our community; we look forward to collaborating with the artists and producers this cycle brings together.”

THE HUNTINGTON is Boston’s theatrical commons and leading professional theatre company. On our stages and throughout our city, we share enduring and untold stories that spark the imagination of audiences and artists and amplify the wide range of voices in our community. Under the leadership of Norma Jean Calderwood Artistic Director Loretta Greco and Executive Director Christopher Mannelli, The Huntington is committed to welcoming broad and diverse audiences, provides life-changing opportunities for students through its robust education and community programs, is a national leader in the development of playwrights and new plays, acts as the host organization for a multi-year residency of Front Porch Arts Collective (a Black theatre company based in Boston), and serves the local arts community through our operation of The Huntington Calderwood/BCA. The Huntington reopened the historic Huntington Theatre in fall of 2022 after its transformational renovation, and is currently in phase two of the project; the renovation and building project of this storied venue with a bold vision for the future will allow us to innovatively expand our services to audiences, artists, and the community for generations to come. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.

NEXT CHAPTER PODCASTS is committed to elevating bold, authentic voices to enlighten and inspire. Through open, honest conversations centered on values, Next Chapter partners with brands and thought leaders to closely create content that not only expands reach but also fosters deeper, more profound connections with their audiences. Their award winning library of podcasts spans multiple genres from sports to scripted fiction and reaches a global audience. Through an ongoing partnership with Play On Shakespeare, Next Chapter is a leader in the field of adapting plays into podcasts, surpassing 5 million downloads of Shakespearean audio worldwide and winning multiple awards for its productions.

WELLESLEY REPERTORY THEATRE was established in 1998 by Founding Artistic Producer Nora Hussey. Nora’s passionate storytelling mission – supported by the generosity of Ruth Nagel Jones ‘42 and carried forward by current Artistic Producer Marta Rainer ‘98 – built an award-winning bridge for over two decades between curricular inquiry and professional opportunity for our ever-expanding ensemble of theatre artists, through annual productions on the Wellesley College campus. While our commitment to our core mission remains fervently steadfast, this year WRT has been thrilled to set forth a reinterpretation of our methodology. We have redefined the Rep! Through direct support of our graduates in their own communities via the newly launched WRT grant program and more, we aspire to create opportunities that have an unmediated and lasting impact on the manifold creative lives and careers of our graduates in an evolving, multifaceted artistic landscape. WRT remains committed to acting as a creative incubator and source of artistic sustenance for current Wellesley College Theatre students, our amazing graduate body, and our collaborators.

ABOUT UFOT FAMILY CYCLE FUNDING PARTNERS: 

THE BARR FOUNDATION’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, Barr focuses regionally, and selectively engages nationally, working in partnership with nonprofits, foundations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to elevate the arts, advance equitable solutions for climate change, and enable all students to discover and actualize their unbounded potential. Founded in 1997, Barr now has assets over $2.5 billion and has contributed more than $1 billion to charitable causes. For more information, visit barrfoundation.org.

San San Wong, The Barr Foundation Director, Arts & Creativity: “To create a more vibrant, equitable, and relevant arts sector, arts organizations need resources that let them take risks, experiment with new ways of working, and exchange ideas with others. Barr’s ArtsAmplified Initiative supports leading arts organizations as they build their organizational capacity for artistic and civic leadership. We are excited that The Huntington’s Ufot Family Cycle will offer Boston an incredible opportunity for a new kind of collaboration, shared learning, and vital community dialogue across the city.”

THE BOSTON FOUNDATION is one of the nation’s first and most impactful community foundations. We exist to close the gap on this region’s greatest disparities, and to help build a better Boston. The systemic and structural inequities that drive disparities cannot be dismantled without extraordinary perseverance and collaboration among visionary and courageous partners, including donors who are committed to making philanthropy an effective vehicle for social change. Together we can improve lives and strengthen communities.

Lee Pelton, The Boston Foundation, President & CEO: “Mfoniso Udofia and her work speak profoundly to the vital history of our immigrant city and to the equitable future we all are working to create. I am inspired by how the Ufot Family Cycle will bridge neighborhoods and communities across our city to come together around a story of the Black diaspora. The Boston Foundation is honored to support this remarkable endeavor. We know the immense power that artists have to connect us to life’s enduring themes and humanize the landscape of history and in doing so, inspires our citizens to imagine a city of truth telling, memory and meaning. I hope that TBF’s partnership will motivate others to find their unique way to also lend their support and involvement.”

THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF ARTS AND CULTURE enhances the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the City through the arts. The role of the arts in all aspects of life in Boston is reinforced via equitable access to arts and culture in every community, its public institutions, and public places. Key areas of work include support to the cultural sector through grants and programs, as well as the production and permitting of art in public places.

Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture: “The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture is proud to support the Ufot Family Cycle and the incredible cohort of partner organizations that have assembled to collaborate on this large-scale, citywide project. A Neighborhood and Downtown Activation Grant will allow performances to be brought beyond the theatre’s walls to the heart of a variety of communities, expanding the boundaries the theatre for both audiences and artists.”

VENTUROUS THEATER FUND OF THE TIDES FOUNDATION (VTF) supports ambitious new work for the stage and the writers who create it. VTF makes grants to fund the production of plays that are “venturous”—ambitious in scale, epic in scope, challenging in form, controversial in subject matter, experimental in concept, and/or unabashed in their theatricality. VTF also funds artist-driven initiatives that embrace agency for playwrights at all stages of their careers, and that champion creative growth and financial security for dramatists. These include playwright fellowships, opportunities for collaboration across national boundaries, the Legacy Playwrights Initiative for elder writers, and healthcare/health insurance resources. More info at VenturousTheaterFund.org.

ABOUT UFOT FAMILY CYCLE ACTIVATION PARTNERS: 
 
AFRODESIACITY (ADC) is an independent event management agency. We partner directly with emerging artists and professionals of diverse backgrounds to elevate your voice and support organizations in producing soulful events and creative and professional opportunities. We serve Boston’s greater metropolitan area and the East Coast region, offering artists management, event production, and community and cultural activation.

BOSTON PUBLIC ART TRIENNIAL is the city’s first and only public art organization dedicated to supporting artists and communities in bold, contemporary, public art. The Triennial’s mission is to foster relationships between artists and the public to create bold public art experiences that open minds, conversations, and spaces across Boston, resulting in a more open, equitable, and vibrant city.

Marguerite Wynter, Director of Partnerships and Engagement: “We’re thrilled to partner with The Huntington for the Ufot Family Cycle. We believe in fostering Boston’s arts ecosystem through collaboration between the visual, performing arts, and beyond.”

BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY: Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is a pioneer of public library service in America. It was the first large, free municipal library in the United States; the first public library to lend books; the first to have a branch library; and the first to have a children’s room. The Boston Public Library of today is a robust system that includes the Central Library in Copley Square, 25 neighborhood branches, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, the Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center, and an archival center, offering public access to world-class special collections of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and prints, along with rich digital content and online services. The Boston Public Library serves nearly 4 million visitors per year and millions more online. All of its programs and exhibitions are free to all and open to the public. The Boston Public Library is a department of the City of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Michelle Wu. To learn more, visit bpl.org.

BOSTON UNIVERSITY COLLEGE FOR FINE ARTS is a community of fine and performing artists — musicians, visual artists, and theatre-makers — who believe in the power of creativity. While artistic and academic rigor are signatures of the program, education within BU College of Fine Arts extends beyond the walls of the practice rooms and studios. Students also benefit from the rich centers of art and culture throughout Boston, international opportunities through the study abroad program, and a worldwide network of alumni and connections to professions. At CFA, we are thought leaders and arts innovators. We are diverse and inclusive. We are international. We’re committed to excellence. Our artists work with award-winning faculty, practice in top-notch facilities, thrive in the spaces of creative experimentation, and pursue the many opportunities available at one of the world’s best universities.

THE PRIOR PERFORMING ARTS CENTER in Worcester, Massachusetts, is the College of the Holy Cross’ newest venue and is an uncommon commons for transformative experiences with the arts. With dynamic programming and striking architectural design, The Prior supports arts-based collaboration across disciplines; offers technical capabilities to ignite the imaginations of students, faculty, community members, and visiting artists alike; and provides new avenues for leveraging the positive power of the arts for broad audiences and through civic and community partnerships.

COOLIDGE CORNER THEATER is an independent, nonprofit cinema and cultural institution with four screens and the capacity for over 700 audience members. Since 1933, audiences in the greater Boston area have relied on the Coolidge for the best of contemporary independent film, repertory, and educational programming.

DIASPORAMASS is an organization in Massachusetts that brings together the Black and Brown diaspora through photography, videography, news, events, and resources. We celebrate cultural diversity, promote unity, and empower our community. Through visual storytelling and advocacy, we inspire positive change, amplify marginalized voices, and foster inclusivity. Our vision is a connected and empowered Massachusetts where everyone is seen, heard, and valued. We support Nigerian storytelling because it enriches our understanding of diverse narratives, promotes cultural exchange, and contributes to a more inclusive society. Together, we build a brighter future for the Black and Brown diaspora.

EMBRACE BOSTON: Working at the intersection of arts, culture, community and research to dismantle structural racism, Embrace Boston sees a radically inclusive and equitable Boston where everyone belongs and Black people prosper, grounded in joy, love and wellbeing.

FACING HISTORY & OURSELVES uses lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. From one classroom in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1976, Facing History & Ourselves has become a global organization with a network of hundreds of thousands of middle and secondary school educators reaching millions of students worldwide. We help educators prepare students to participate in civic life—using intellect, empathy, ethics, and choice to stand up to bigotry and hate in their own lives, communities, and schools.

Dimitry Anselme, Chief Officer, Growth & Engagement: “In a political, cultural moment where division thrives and the rejection of newcomers to the shores of the United States of America has found a potent embrace, The Huntington invites us to reject these false prophets and rather invites us to re-dedicate ourselves to the founding values of the Republic. Boston will once again return to its roots of migration and immigration that started with the establishment of the Plymouth Bay Colony so long ago. Sojourners is a play about identity, migration and belonging, and this is the right city to tell this story. As a playwright, Mfoniso is telling a very American story about discovering oneself, reimagining oneself and building new lives as one sets roots on these American shores. Bostonians-particularly the next generation of Bostonians-will find here a play that speaks to their identities and lived experience.”

GBH is the leading multiplatform creator for public media in America. As the largest producer of content for PBS and partner to NPR and PRX, GBH delivers compelling experiences, stories and information to audiences wherever they are. GBH’s local television channels include GBH 2, GBH 44, GBH WORLD and GBH Kids. With a newsroom headquartered in Boston, GBH reaches across New England with GBH 89.7, Boston’s Local NPR; CRB Classical 99.5; and CAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station. From Boston to the Berkshires, from Worcester to the Cape and Islands, GBH is dedicated to connecting the Commonwealth through news, programming, learning tools and events. GBH has been recognized with hundreds of the nation’s premier broadcast, digital and journalism awards. Find more information at gbh.org.

KLIGERMAN PRODUCTIONS is a leading provider of professional video production services. Since 2021, Kligerman Productions has been a close partner with The Huntington, working to capture high-quality recordings of each of their performances, with a special focus on preserving the magic of live theatre and bringing it to the screen.

NIGERIAN PROFESSIONALS GROUP is dedicated to fostering the success and personal fulfillment of African students, professionals, and entrepreneurs in the diaspora. Since our founding in 2019, we have promoted excellence, teamwork, and growth, proudly operating as a certified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. At NPG, we cultivate innovative ideas by fostering a culture of collaboration that breaks down barriers. Our mission is to empower individuals through timely sharing of valuable information about career prospects, scholarships, and grants. By encouraging healthy competition and personal growth, we inspire our members to reach new heights.

NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY: Founded in 1898, we’re renowned for our experiential learning model, high-impact research, deep partnerships, and worldwide reach. From day one, we’ve pursued innovative ways of teaching and research that place a premium on experience and engagement with the world. Today, our signature approach erases traditional boundaries, empowering not only students, but faculty, alumni, partners, and innovators to solve problems and pursue impact.

Antonio Ocampo-Guzman, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre: “The Department of Theatre is delighted to join our friends and frequent collaborators at The Huntington on this groundbreaking exploration. Not only is Mfoniso’s work raw and powerful: the entire enterprise of a city-wide celebration is a much-needed reimagining of how the performing arts participate in civic discourse and how we create sustainable financial models for them to flourish. We anticipate the Ufot Family Cycle to be an incredible learning opportunity for all of us, especially our next generations of theatre artists.”

ROXBURY COMMUNITY COLLEGE (RCC) is a public institution of higher education offering associate degrees, certificate programs and lifelong learning opportunities to the Greater Boston community. In 2021 the Department of Education recognized RCC as a Predominately Black Institution (PBI) making RCC the only PBI in the Northeastern United States. RCC offers 24 associate degree programs, 6 credit-based certificate programs, 13 non-credit professional certification programs, 30+ lifelong learning and fitness classes, and customized incumbent worker training programs. The College hosts hundreds of civic and community events at the Reggie Lewis Center and Media Arts Center each year. RCC is committed to providing all learners with the academic and non-academic support required for degree completion and long-term success. Roxbury Community College provides a nurturing environment, where all community members are welcome, regardless of past education. We transform lives through excellence and innovation, preparing our learners for active citizenry and success in a changing world.

WEST END HOUSE is a vital community dedicated to inspiring and empowering young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. Located in Allston, West End House serves over 1,500 individuals annually, ranging from ages 7 to 24, from 25 of Boston’s 30 zip codes. Our programs are focused on key areas including Visual and Performing Arts, Academic Success, Leadership and Career Development, College and Career Pathways, Sports and Fitness, and Food Security and Nutrition. West End House ensures access for all by making all programs and services free to the community. Since 1906, youth have come through our doors to find success and support for their educational, personal, artistic, and career journeys. We prioritize each individual’s well-being as they discover their own path forward to a healthy, fulfilling, and joyful future. Our Formula for Impact is rooted in positive relationships with caring adults who deliver innovative programs that result in measurable impact. Learn more at westendhouse.org.

WHEELOCK FAMILY THEATRE: At Wheelock Family Theatre, family theatre is a shared experience for the entire family, where the definition of “family” is as inclusive and expansive as possible—the family you are related to and the family you have chosen. We appreciate that families are made up of individuals of multiple identities and perspectives and that it is essential that we all feel free to bring our whole selves to the practice of making and experiencing theatre together. At Wheelock Family Theatre, family theatre is smart fun for all ages. We tell stories featuring intergenerational casts that resonate with adults and children in the audience in order to foster important conversations across generations and enrich and expand our understanding of our shared humanity. We offer process-oriented classes that teach young people collaborative and creative skills that transcend the theatrical medium and will be applicable throughout their lives.

ZUMIX: Since its inception in 1991, ZUMIX has offered award-winning creative youth development programs to empower young people ages 7-18. ZUMIX’s nationally recognized programs provide opportunities for creative learning, exploration, skill-building, employment, and mentorship so that young people can transition into adulthood with confidence. ZUMIX’s programs support students’ growth artistically, personally, professionally, and as civic leaders both in and out of the classroom. Based in East Boston, ZUMIX gives young people tools to graduate from high school and pursue a future of their choosing. ZUMIX does this through programs in instrumental music, production, songwriting, performance, audio engineering, and audio and video storytelling. The 21st-century skills youth acquire at ZUMIX support overall career readiness by emphasizing the development of skills in communication, leadership, creativity, and adaptability.

 

MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA 

 Any members of the media who are interested in speaking with the artists and partners involved in the Ufot Family Cycle, please contact Huntington Publicist Gabrielle Jaques at gjaques@huntingtontheatre.org or 617-273-1520. 

 MEDIA ASSETS available for download here 

UFOT FAMILY CYCLE INFO available here 

 

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