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Mfoniso Udofia Announced As 2018 AETNA New Voices Fellow

Mfoniso Udofia Announced As 2018 AETNA New Voices FellowArtistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts have announced playwright Mfoniso Udofia as the 2018 Aetna New Voices Fellow at Hartford Stage.

The Aetna New Voices Fellowship provides an artistic home for important playwrights of diversity and color to develop work and become involved in the ongoing life of Greater Hartford. The residency includes the commissioning of a new play with developmental readings and workshops, working with Hartford Stage Education through Write On - an annual young playwright competition, and advancing community engagement.

A first-generation Nigerian-American storyteller and educator, Udofia is the author of The Ufot Cycle, an ambitious nine-play saga examining the history of Nigerian immigration in America through the eyes of one family. Two plays in the cycle, Sojourners and Her Portmanteau, ran in repertory at the New York Theater Workshop last year. The New York Times called them "extraordinary" and "stunningly acted."

"Aetna's New Voices Fellowship has supported commissioning an array of exciting work over the years, including Quiara Alegrìa Hudes' Pulitzer Prize-winning Water by the Spoonful, Matthew Lopez' The Inheritance, which recently premiered in London, and Kaneza Schaal's Jack &, which will be part of BAM's Next Wave Festival this fall," said Elizabeth Williamson, Associate Artistic Director for Hartford Stage. "I couldn't be happier to have the brilliant Mfoniso Udofia joining us as our 2018 Aetna New Voices Fellow. Her Ufot Cycle is being performed around the country, and we're thrilled to bring her and her work to Hartford."

Udofia is 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 Portmanteau received an Edgerton New Play Award in 2016; it will be produced this spring by Pasadena's Boston Court Performing Arts Center. Three of Udofia's plays were included on the 2017 Honorable Mentions List by The Kilroys, an annual industry survey of important new works by female and trans authors of color.

Udofia's plays have been developed, presented and produced by the New York Theater Workshop, The Playwrights Realm, The Magic Theatre, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's National Black Theatre, Sundance Theatre Lab, Space on Ryder Farm, National New Play Network's New Play Showcase, Soul Productions, terraNOVA, The New Black Fest, American Slavery Project, and Liberation Theatre Company.

Marking its 13th year as the sole funder of the New Voices Fellowship, Aetna builds healthier communities by promoting volunteerism, forming partnerships, and funding initiatives to improve the quality of life for its employees, members, customers and neighbors.

Kaneza Schaal (Go Forth) was the 2016-17 Aetna New Voices Fellow. Past New Voices Fellows include Christina Anderson (How to Catch Creation), 2015-16; Kimber Lee (brownsville song (b-side for tray)), 2014-15; Matthew Lopez (Reverberation, Somewhere, The Whipping Man at Hartford Stage), 2012-13; Daniel Beaty (Breath and Imagination, Resurrection at Hartford Stage), 2007-08; and Quiara Alegría Hudes, who won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Water by the Spoonful, which premiered at Hartford Stage, 2008-09.

Now in our 54th season, Hartford Stage is under the leadership of Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak and Managing Director Michael Stotts. One of the nation's leading resident theatres, Hartford Stage is known for producing innovative revivals of classics and provocative new plays and musicals, including 73 world and American premieres, as well as offering a distinguished education program, which reaches close to 21,000 students annually.

Since Tresnjak's appointment in 2011 the theatre has presented the world premieres of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway, winner of four 2014 Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical by Tresnjak; Rear Window with Kevin Bacon; the new musical Anastasia by Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens; Quiara Alegría Hudes' Water by the Spoonful, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Breath & Imagination by Daniel Beaty; Big Dance Theatre's Man in a Case with Mikhail Baryshnikov; and Reverberation by Matthew Lopez.

Hartford Stage has earned many of the nation's most prestigious awards, including the 1989 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. Other national honors include Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, OBIE, and New York Critics Circle awards. Hartford Stage has produced nationally renowned titles, including the New York transfers of Enchanted April; The Orphans' Home Cycle; Resurrection (later retitled Through the Night); The Carpetbagger's Children; and Tea at Five.

The leading provider of theatre education programs in Connecticut, Hartford Stage's offerings include student matinees, in-school theatre residencies, teen performance opportunities, theatre classes for students (ages 3-18) and adults, afterschool programs and professional development courses.


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