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Artists Series to present 'Incognito' performance on race, diversity, identity

RELEASED: Jan. 27, 2011

Michael Sidney Fosberg
Michael Sidney Fosberg

EAU CLAIRE — "Incognito," a solo performance about race, diversity, identity, family history and finding a father, will be presented Feb. 17 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Written and performed by Michael Sidney Fosberg, the theatrical presentation will be presented as part of the Artists Series at 7:30 p.m. in Schofield Auditorium.

"Incognito" unfolds as a mystery, as Fosberg tells the true story of his search for his biological father following the divorce of his mother and stepfather. Raised in a working-class white family, he discovers at age 32 that his long-lost father is actually African-American. The show's structure allows the audience to make discoveries in the moment along with Fosberg — discoveries about themselves and their perceptions of identity and stereotypes. At times Fosberg addresses the audience directly, narrating the story, while also inhabiting more than a dozen different characters throughout the course of his journey.

The one-hour performance will be followed by a discussion led by Fosberg, who teaches classes and leads workshops for those who wish to further the conversation on race, identity and stereotypes. "Incognito" uses the art of storytelling and performance to create open and honest dialogue around these complicated issues.

"Fosberg takes us on a fascinating journey of self-discovery," wrote the Chicago Sun-Times, which called the play "a profoundly American story about the twining of white and black families."

Fosberg received a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. There he founded the Small Change Original Theater, writing and directing tours of educational shows throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota. In Los Angeles, Calif., he served as the director of education for the Living Library Theatre and as a teacher-director for South Coast Repertory's Young Actor's Conservatory program. In Chicago, Ill., he has appeared at Steppenwolf, Remains, Wisdom Bridge and the Goodman Theatres, and he co-founded the Huron Theater Ensemble.

In 1999 Fosberg set his focus on writing and shaped his first stories about the search for his father. Since 2000 he has toured his autobiographical play, in various stages of development, at venues including the Sundance Institute, California African-American Museum, Bailiwick Repertory Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Missouri Repertory Theatre and the Woodstock Fringe Festival. He is anticipating the February 2011 publication of his memoir, "Incognito," on which his play is based.

"Cookies for a Cause," an Artists Series initiative to spotlight nonprofit community organizations, continues. Cookies made especially for the program by Blugold Dining will be sold ($2, cash only) at "Incognito," with profits going to benefit the Eau Claire Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association. The organization actively helps Southeast Asian families become socially and economically self-sufficient through education and strengthening of relationships and traditions. Funded by federal, state, city and local grants, the association is also a member of the United Way of Greater Eau Claire, the United Way of Chippewa County and the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce.

Tickets for "Incognito" are $17 for the public, $15 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, or $7 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets for students are half-price, $3.50, until the day of the event. On the day of the event, students must pay the full student-ticket price.

Patrons also may charge their tickets to MasterCard, Visa or Discover when ordering by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

The Artists Series is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the state of Wisconsin. The Artists Series also is funded in part by Visit Eau Claire ... The Unexpected Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Radio, WHYS Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for the Artists Series.

The Artists Series is funded by the students of UW-Eau Claire and administered by the Activities and Programs office of the University Centers.

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JS/DW

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