‘Familiar’ Displays Common Family Issues in the African Diaspora

From left to right: Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Erik Hellman, Lanise Antoine Shelly, Jacqueline Williams. (Source: Google)

From left to right: Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Erik Hellman, Lanise Antoine Shelly, Jacqueline Williams. (Source: Google)

The Steppenwolf Theater was home to a play that will open your eyes and mind to a family that deals with culture, identity, and self-love. Recently, I was able to see the beloved play, Familiar, which is written by The Walking Dead and Black Panther star heroine Danai Gurira. Directed by Danya Taymor, the play centers around a Zimbabwean family in Minnesota, preparing for a wedding and meeting the bride’s future husband for the first time. With laughs, intensity, and a bit of drama, the play dives deeper into the family issues, which in turn exposes the audience to issues and complexities those of African descent faces on a daily basis.

Cast members dancing and enjoying African sounds and step in this scene. (Source: Google).

Cast members dancing and enjoying African sounds and step in this scene. (Source: Google).

Most of the characters in this play represent a generational or cultural issue that talks about, still, amongst millennials and those a little older. Nyasha, (played by Celeste M. Cooper), is portrayed as a free-spirited younger sibling who wants to connect to her African heritage and people in every way possible, which is resembling of a lot of African Americans in my generation who want to connect to their African roots and who have disconnected themselves to westernized ways of living. Nyasha is surrounded by her mother and father, Marvelous and Donald Chinyaramwira, (played by Ora Jones and Cedric Young), who distances themselves from their African roots and homeland for a better life in America, and her sister, Tendikayi, (played by Lanise Antoine Shelley), who is college educated, has a high paying job, and is about to marry a white man of equal achievements, (played by Erik Hellman). The parents and older sibling in this play mirror another conversation that is heavily had amongst most black millennials; Africans (and people from other countries as well), who come to American, erasing their identity to fit in as a means to become “successful”.

The play was an astounding take on family dynamics in America, cultural exchange, and celebration of self. This play also stars Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Luigi Sottile, and Jaqueline Williams. This play will be showing at the Steppenwolf until January 13th.

For more information check out the Steppenwolf Theater’s official website.