Senior thesis: Nwabueze’s African roots shape her path in theater

Princeton senior Ugonna Nwabueze, a first-generation Nigerian American, has undertaken two creative thesis projects — an original play and a production of the play “Eclipsed,” in which she played a leading role — to meet the requirements for her English major and certificates in African studies, African American studies and theater. Photo byDenise Applewhite, Office of Communications
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Princeton senior Ugonna Nwabueze, a first-generation Nigerian American, grew up in Brooklyn, New York, but the stories her father told her about being a child soldier in the Nigerian civil war, which began in 1967, haunted her.

Her family history would influence one of her two senior thesis projects, a production of “Eclipsed” by Tony Award-winning playwright Danai Gurira, for which Nwabueze researched, produced and played a leading role.

“Eclipsed” follows five Liberian women during the second Liberian civil war —  the captive wives of a rebel officer who form a fragile community in a dilapidated, one-bedroom shack. Gurira based the script on interviews she conducted with Liberian women. A note from Gurira at the top of the published script states the importance of research to anyone who produces the play — Nwabueze took those words to heart.

Nwabueze’s development of the production of “Eclipsed”— which included an unforgettable trip to West Africa to conduct interviews of her own — is for her certificates in theater and African studies. For her senior thesis requirement as an English major, as well as for her certificate in African American studies, Nwabueze is writing a play set in New Orleans about the experiences of three black women in the 1800s.

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