Martin Luther King Jr. Keynote Event Explores Race, Identity
Actor Michael Sidney Fosberg visits Alma College to perform an eye-opening autobiographical play that explores issues of race and identity in his search for his biological father.
“Incognito,” the keynote event for Alma College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Week, takes place at 8 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17th in the Remick Heritage Center, Presbyterian Hall. Admission is free; no ticket required.
Fosberg grew up in a white, suburban, middle-class family in Waukegan, Ill. Graduating from the University of Minneapolis in 1979 with a bachelor of fine arts degree, he enjoyed acting, directing and producing his own plays. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles and appeared in television and film, but his specialty was doing acting workshops with students.
Michael Sidney Fosberg
In 1992, however, Fosberg made a shocking discovery: He was black.
The issue never arose when his mother and adoptive father were raising him, especially since Fosberg “looked” white. Only through what Fosberg calls “investigation and quirk of fate” did he make a life changing phone call to his biological, African American father.
Soon after, he traveled to Virginia Beach, where he met more African American relatives. In a flurry of conversations and reunions, he discovered his true family ancestry and a letter written by his mother explaining her choice to raise him as “white.”
Today, Fosberg travels around the country performing his solo-act show. “Incognito” describes his shocking experiences as a “black” man living a “white” man’s life. While serious and thought provoking, the play also is at times funny and light-hearted. At the end of the performance, the audience is challenged to think about the complexities of their own identities and how identity is constructed.
Fosberg’s favorite part of the show is what comes after the performance, says Jamie Smith, a member of the planning committee that helped arrange Fosberg’s visit to Alma College.
“He has a lengthy Q&A session to help the audience digest what they’ve seen,” says Smith. “In fact, the whole performance is loosely structured to respond to the people in the audience. He loves talking to people, and he likes probing issues surrounding identity in order to help us better understand it.”
Overall, Smith believes the performance is a good fit for the themes and values of the College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Week.
“Dr. King wanted to promote equality and fairness, which is why he went beyond race,” she says. “This performance is in line with his ideals. If we understand ourselves, then we can better understand each other.”
Posted: Tue, January 4th, 2011 at 3:53PM