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Boston Theatre Scene

Boston's Ufot Family Cycle

When nationally acclaimed playwright Mfoniso Udofia grew up in Southbridge, Massachusetts and went to Wellesley College, she rarely saw stories about Africans and African Americans that felt true to her own 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 form a stunning tapestry that will resonate with everyone.
The Ufot Family Cycle is an unprecedented two-year city-wide festival where theatres and arts organizations around Greater Boston will join to produce Mfoniso Udofia’s cycle of plays in partnership with universities, social organizations, non-profits, and a host of community activation partners, beginning this fall.

THE PLAYS

Stay tuned for more information about tickets!

Sojourners

By Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by The Huntington
Directed by Dawn M. Simmons
The Huntington Theatre
October 31 – December 1, 2024
Rising star playwright 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 has to choose between the Nigerian Dream and her obligations as a matriarch. 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.

 From playwright Mfoniso Udofia: “I am thrilled to announce the production of the first two plays of the Ufot Cycle this season. Sojourners serves as the origin story within this 9-play cycle, introducing Abasiama, my matriarch – a dynamic and forward-thinking woman from whom an entire Nigerian lineage in America will emerge. I hope this play and Abasiama snatch your heart. She sure caught mine.”

From Huntington Norma Jean Calderwood Artistic Director Loretta Greco: “This launches a city-wide Cycle of plays with a host of thrilling producing colleagues who will come together in the Spring to share more with you on this one of a kind two season celebration. If you want rich family stories, if you want plays with soaringly poetic dialogue, if you want plays that change the way you see the world, I can’t wait for you to fall madly in love with the work of Mfoniso Udofia, one of the most theatrically ambitious artists I have had the pleasure of working with. Mfoniso started work on this cycle a decade ago, and we have collaborated on acclaimed premieres of her plays all over the country – yet it feels so right to have her plays return here to her hometown on a canvas as vast as Mfoniso’s creative imagination. Here in her origin story, Sojourners, we meet the matriarch of the family, Abasiama, as she attempts to further her college education and encounters American culture for the first time.”

The Grove

By Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by The Huntington
Directed by Awoye Timpo
The Calderwood Pavilion / Wimberly Theatre
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.

From playwright Mfoniso Udofia:  “The second play in the Ufot Family Cycle, The Grove, holds a special place in my heart as it was the first play I ever wrote. Following Adiaha, Abasiama’s daughter, as she navigates coming of age, The Grove explores the delicate balance between personal desires and the traditions of the close-knit Nigerian community she holds dear. I hope you enjoy these initial two plays, the beginning of a journey through nine unique plays!” 

From Huntington Norma Jean Calderwood Artistic Director Loretta Greco: “Much like August Wilson’s cycle plays, each play within Mfoniso’s cycle stands brilliantly on its own, prompting new questions, ideas, and conversations. The Grove leaps forward in time and invites us to Abasiama’s daughter, Adiaha’s college graduation party complete with the magnificently interwoven dreams and hopes of her parents, uncles, siblings, and friends. Coming to a head with Adiaha in the center, with a chorus of ancestors guiding her towards claiming for the first time in her life ‘this is who I am.’ You will be moved and changed by the journey, and I can’t wait to share it with you.” 

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 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 of the incredible producing and organizational partners who are helping to bring Mfoniso’s groundbreaking Ufot Family Cycle to life.”

 

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.”

Her Portmanteau 

By Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by Central Square Theater and Front Porch Arts Collective
Directed by Tasia A. Jones
Central Square Theater
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.” 

Kufre n’ Quay

By Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: Boston Arts Academy; with advisory support from The Huntington and in collaboration with Wheelock Family Theatre
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.”

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.”

Lifted

By Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: Wellesley Repertory Theatre
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.”

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 and 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.”

Adiaha and Clora Snatch Joy (a folk opera)

By Mfoniso Udofia
Produced by: Boston Lyric Opera and The Huntington
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.”

Ufot Family Cycle Funding Partners

THE BARR FOUNDATION

THE BOSTON FOUNDATION

THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF ARTS AND CULTURE

VENTUROUS THEATER FUND OF THE TIDES FOUNDATION (VTF)