Chuk Obasi currently serves as a Managing Member of The Private Theatre. He is also a Movement Teacher at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting and Adjunct Professor of Musical Theatre at Drew University. Recent works: The Neighbors at the Italian Theatre Festival (Director); One-man play The Actual Dance at the United Solo Festival (performer); Music concert A Drink with Death (Lyricist) at Feinstein’s/54 Below; Critically acclaimed play Uniform Justice (Playwright/ Director) at the NY International Fringe Festival; Award-winning Feature films “The Depths” and “79 Parts” (Actor). Music from his new opera in development, Moonshine in B Minor (co-librettist) will be featured in performance at The Public Theatre in February 2019.
When you think of yourself, what nationality do you most identify with and why is that?
I'm American. I was born here, spent my entire life here thus far, have been shaped here, and ultimately embrace this country in the complexity of all its deep flaws and great triumphs. At the same time I feel very connected to my Nigerian ethnicity as the son of two Nigerian immigrants. So I just as strongly identify with the term Nigerian American. You will find me using either identifier interchangeably, often pertaining to the context.
How is that identity affirmed or challenged by living in America today?
It is affirmed simply in that it is fact. And Truth.
What is your hoped-for future for America? (or, What is your American Dream?)
I hope for a culture shift that truly encompasses love. Like, in our actions and intentions. Love, as I see it, creates hopeful possibilities within messy piles. So yes, it can still be messy, but if possibility over positions were the norm, just imagine how different this country would be.
What is a challenge you are currently facing (in terms of being an American, or within the context of your American identity)?
It is a challenge to live in a country that's so immersed in racism that it is just normal, if not hard to notice by many Americans. It is also a challenge to exist here knowing that this country's history of oppression of its original inhabitants - Native Americans - has not been rectified. I believe all Americans are complicit in that injustice, and I would like to be part of an America that figures out (or at least tries to figure out) what reconciliation, equity, and again, love, looks like.
How do you want to see yourself?
I want to see myself as someone who can find the good in anyone. Someone who clearly has purpose here. Someone who can create art that is of value. Someone my sons are immensely proud of at the end of the day.