Okwui Okpokwasili
Adaku’s Revolt

World Premiere • TILT Commission

Thursday, March 14 at 4:30pm
Friday, March 15 at 6:30pm
Saturday, March 16 at 3pm & 6:30pm
Sunday, March 17 at 3pm

Friday, March 22 at 6:30pm
Saturday, March 23 at 3pm & 6:30pm
Sunday, March 24 at 3pm

Abrons Arts Center

Theater • Ages 7 & up • 60 mins

MacArthur Fellow Okwui Okpokwasili tells the story of a young black girl who summons her inner strength to revolt against imposed beauty standards and wear her hair naturally.

Creator and performer Okpokwasili and designer and director Peter Born collaborate on an interdisciplinary approach towards examining gender and culture through this captivating performance. The name Adaku, in the Igbo language spoken in Okpokwasili’s native Nigeria, means “one who brings wealth to the family.” In this narrative, Adaku’s wealth lies in protecting the precious landscape of her hair from existential threats. Often a young black girl with un-straightened hair is perceived by society as exuding signals of rebellion, unruliness, madness, and ugliness. Adaku’s Revolt tackles what it might mean for a young girl to feel healthy and free from pain, even if she risks being ostracized.

Creative Team
Created by Okwui Okpokwasili & Peter Born
Choreography by Okwui Okpokwasili
Direction and design by Peter Born
Performed by Okwui Okpokwasili, Khadidiatou Bangoura, Audrey Hailes, Breyanna Maples, and Ajia Wilmore
Production managed by Michaelangelo DeSerio
Produced by Miranda Wright & Lucy Jackson for Los Angeles Performance Practice


Abrons Arts Center,
466 Grand Street,
New York, NY 10002

About the Artist

Okwui Okpokwasili is a Brooklyn-based writer, performer, and choreographer who creates multidisciplinary performance pieces that seek to shape and amplify the shared psychic space the audience and performer inhabit, and, through centering the African/African American feminine, to illuminate universal human conditions. Her productions, created in collaboration with acclaimed designer Peter Born, are highly experimental in form, bringing together elements of dance, theater, and the visual arts. Okpokwasili and Born’s first New York production, Pent-Up: A Revenge Dance, premiered at Performance Space 122 and received a 2010 New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) for Outstanding Production. Their second collaboration, Bronx Gothic, won a 2014 Bessie Award for Outstanding Production, toured nationally and internationally, and is the subject of a new documentary film directed by Andrew Rossi. Their work Poor People’s TV Room premiered at New York Live Arts in 2017 and continues to tour nationally. Okpokwasili frequently collaborates with award-winning director Ralph Lemon. She has appeared as an actor in many productions including works by Nora Chipaumire, Julie Taymor, Young Jean Lee, Richard Foreman and Richard Maxwell. Film credits include Malorie’s Final Score, Knut Åsdam’s Abyss, The Interpreter, The Hoax, I Am Legend, and Madeline’s Madeline. Okpokwasili is a 2018 MacArthur Fellow. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Doris Duke Artist Award, 2018 United States Artist Fellowship, and Herb Alpert Award. Her performance work has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, Danspace Project, Performance Space New York, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, the 10th Annual Berlin Biennale, Jacob’s Pillow, and New York Live Arts, where she was a Randjelovic/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist. She is currently a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts.

Adaku’s Revolt is commissioned for the TILT Kids Festival by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) with funding provided by The MAP Fund, supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Howard Gilman Foundation, and created with support from the Abrons Arts Center through the Abrons AIRspace Residency Program.

Photo © Peter Born