Osonye Tess Onwueme: Staging Women, Youth, Globalization, and Eco-literature

Osonye Tess Onwueme: Staging Women, Youth, Globalization, and Eco-literature

An international conference tagged "Osonye Tess Onwueme: Staging Women, Youth, Globalization, and Eco-literature" holds at the University of Abuja, Nigeria, from November 11 ? 14, 2009.
The conference focuses centrally on Tess Onwueme as a playwright, scholar, activist, and producer whose works explore a wide range of social, political, historical, cultural and environmental concerns of Nigerians, specifically, women, youth, and people of the Niger Delta, as well as Africans on the continent and in the African diaspora.
Here are some comment about her by some literary critics:
"Tess Onwueme?s drama is a spellbinding theatre work! It is written as if Dr. Onwueme is composing a symphonic work... Along with her other masterwork, What Mama Said and The Missing Face place Tess Onwueme in the ranks of Wole Soyinka, Athol Fugard, and Derek Walcott." ? Woodie King, Jr., Producing Director, 2001 international premiere of The Missing Face the New Federal Theatre in New York City.
"Onwueme?s plays not only bring the range and beauty of Nigerian culture to an international audience, they create the artistic bridges crucial to the development of a multicultural educational environment. Her work speaks to the studies of gender, race, class, and cultural difference. . . ." ? Prof. K. Kendall, former Chair of Theatre, Smith College, Northampton, MA USA, 1991.
". . . Ibsen of her culture, the playwright who dares to raise new issues." ? Daniela Giosefi, American Book Award Winner, 1990.
Osonye Tess Onwueme, distinguished Professor of Cultural Diversity and English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, is currently one of the best known and most prolific women playwrights of African descent . She is a winner of several international awards, including a Ford Foundation research award. She was recently appointed to the US State Department Public Diplomacy Specialist/Speaker Program for North, West, and East India.
Onwueme has been compared to Nigerian dramatist Zulu Sofola, Femi Osofisan, and Wole Soyinka in her use of Nigerian performance structures and commitment to exploring the socio-political issues that affect the lives of the struggling masses, women, and youths in the global community today.
An intellectual of outstanding influence and an advocate for the environment, women and children?s rights on the African continent and in the African Diaspora, Onwueme uses her rich and culturally nuanced dramas to also interrogate the relationship among Africans across the African diaspora, exploring such themes as the impact of slavery and migration on Africans across the Atlantic in the Missing Face and the implications of a Pan-African movement in Riot in Heaven. Her works speak to the impact of globalization and the presence of multi-national corporations on national economies, the rural and urban environments, and the lives of those displaced by such structures. Thus, her plays become the sites for dramatizing the unresolved ecological, historical, and socio-political tensions which plague post-colonial nations in Africa and globally.
In over two decades, Osonye Tess Onwueme has published over fifteen works including such influential plays as What Mama Said (2003), Tell It to Women (1997), The Missing Face (2002) and Riot in Heaven (2006), Shakara (2006) to mention a few that have received international performances. According to Ngugi wa Thiongo, Onwueme is "eminently a political dramatist . . . . Her drama and theatre are a feast of music, dance, mime, proverbs, and story-telling." Tanure Ojaide observes that she is the "most prolific and outstanding female dramatist of the new generation of African writers."
As a writer who defines herself as pan-Africanist, Onwueme often creates plays which challenge her audiences and readers to critically investigate issues often neglected in the dramas of so many of her peers and predecessors. As Nina Adams asserts, "Through the voices of women, in Shakara and her other plays, Onwueme draws out universal themes of conflict??between rich and poor, modern and traditional?? and the conflict of the inner-self is a recurring motif." ? BBC On Air, The BBC?s World Service International Magazine, Sept. 2004.
The conference organisers encourage individual paper and panel proposals which address various aspects of Onwueme?s works, including, but not limited to, those delineated above. Below are additional possible suggestions of broad topics: Feminist theories and the drama of Osonye Tess Onwueme, Onwueme in dialogue with the African Diaspora, Onwueme, activism and iconoclasm, Women, nation and the post-nation in Africa and across the Atlantic, Women, gender, and power, Onwueme and the Nigerian Niger Delta, Onwueme, drama and oil politics, Onwueme and eco-politics/literature, Onwueme and performance/production, Postcoloniality and survival, Urbanity and the nation, Politics and the Youth, Mothering and modernity in Onwueme?s drama, Culture, tradition and the nation in Onwueme?s drama, Language and aesthetics in Onwueme?s drama, Onwueme: interrogating globalization, Onwueme?s drama as dance, and Teaching Tess Onwueme?s plays.
Abstracts and panel proposals should be sent to:
Professor Maureen Ngozi Eke (Central Michigan University, USA) [email protected]; [email protected] and Professor Onookome Okome (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada) [email protected]
The conference is hosted by the Vice Chancellor University of Abuja, F C T, Nigeria.
Professor Oty Agbajoh-Laoye (Monmouth University, USA) [email protected], Professor Mabel Evwierhoma (University of Abuja, FCT, Abuja, Nigeria) [email protected], Professor Irene Salami (University of Jos, Nigeria) [email protected], Dr Chinyelu Ojukwu (University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria) [email protected], and Nduka Otiono (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada) [email protected]
International Organizing Committee:
Prof. Kanika Batra (Texas Technological University, USA/New Delhi University) [email protected], Prof. Becky Becker (Columbus State University, USA) [email protected], Prof. Sonia Darlington (Beloit College, USA) [email protected], and Steve Daniel (Director of Theater, ABU, Zaria, Nigeria) [email protected]

*Prof Tess Onwueme (left) and Prof Maureen Eke, convener of the Abuja conference on Tess' work.

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