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BBC's Play of the Week to Feature
Tess Onwueme's 'Shakara: Dance Hall Queen'


 MAILED:  Aug. 31, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — "Shakara: Dance Hall Queen" (2001), an award-winning play by Nigerian playwright Tess Onwueme, a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, will be broadcast on BBC World Service Drama as part of the Play of the Week strand Sept. 4-5.

Beginning Sept. 5, the one-hour play can be found on the Internet at BBC.com, under the BBC Play of the Week features. Locally, the radio play will be aired on WHWC 88.3 FM at 3:06 a.m. Sept. 4.

"Shakara,” which won the Association of Nigerian Authors coveted drama prize in 2001, is one of 13 published plays by Onwueme. The play is about mothers and daughters and their struggle for identity, power and control. It takes place in a modern city which is sharply split between the rich and the poor.

"It's about the quest for money and the rat-race for success and material goods, which drives people to engage in all kinds of dysfunctional behavior that are inimical to their striving for positive identity and progress," Onwueme said.

Onwueme joined the UW-Eau Claire faculty in 1994 as the institution's first Distinguished Professor of Cultural Diversity. Earlier she taught at Montclair State University in New Jersey and at Vassar College. She holds a doctorate in drama from the University of Benin, Nigeria, and a master's degree in literature from the University of Ife, Nigeria.

Considered one of Africa's leading writers, she has received international recognition for many of her plays. She has won the ANA drama prize four times since 1985, most recently this month for "Then She Said It" (2002). She is currently working on her second novel, "What I Cannot Tell My Father." She teaches various courses in African and world literature and drama, with special emphasis on the studies of women in contemporary Black literature and drama.

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LWG/JW

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Updated: September 26, 2005