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'Eclipsed' Continues Making History With 6 Tony Award Nominations

Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong’o and the cast and crew of 'Eclipsed' on Broadway are nominated for 6 Tony Awards.

The cast of Eclipsed: Saycon Sengbloh, Akosua Busia, Lupita Nyong’o, Zainab Jah and Pascale Armand on day 1 at the legendary Golden Theatre. (Photo: Alyssa Klein)


Eclipsed has been making history ever since it debuted on Broadway this year. Penned by Zimbabwean-American actress, playwright and star of The Walking Dead, Danai Gurira, it tells the story of five women during the Liberian civil war.

Now, the cast and crew of Eclipsed are up for six Tony Award nominations, including Best Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Lupita Nyong’o), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play (Pascale Armand and Saycon Sengbloh), Best Costume Design of a Play (Clint Ramos) and Best Direction of a Play (Liesl Tommy).

Gurira is the only woman writer nominated for Best Play, points out celebrity reporter and blogger Makho Ndlovu.

The 70th Annual Tony Awards are set to take place Sunday, June 12th, at the Beacon Theater in New York City. They’ll be televised on CBS. In related news, Hamilton made Tony Awards history with a record-breaking 16 nominations.

Best Play – Eclipsed by Danai Gurira

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play – Lupita Nyong’o

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play – Pascale Armand

Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play – Saycon Sengbloh

Best Costume Design of a Play – Clint Ramos

Best Direction of a Play – Liesl Tommy

Eclipsed originally ran at the Yale Repertory Theater in 2009, with a promising Yale School of Drama student understudying for the principle role of the “Girl.” The student, of course, was Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o, who returned to the stage in September 2015, though this time as the lead in the Public Theater’s sold-out production of Eclipsed. Helmed by South African theater director Liesl Tommy, the off-Broadway show also featured brilliant performances by Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, Zainab Jah and Saycon Sengbloh (who is herself Liberian).

All five women reprised their roles when producers Stephen Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey brought Eclipsed to Broadway back in March.

Through the 10,000 Girls Campaign, the Eclipsed team has a goal of bringing 10,000 girls to see the show who otherwise might not have the opportunity to experience a Broadway production.

As of this past weekend, each performance of Eclipsed is dedicated to abducted girls around the world to help drive attention to initiatives like #BringBackOurGirls and #KnowHerName. Saturday’s performance was dedicated to Lydia Habila and Rejoice Musa, two of the 276 girls who were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 14th, 2014.

“Many of the abducted girls are living lives exactly like those you have just witnessed today on our stage,” said Eclipsed castmember Akosua Busia. “They are used as tools of war. Lydia Habila and Rejoice Musa. Know her name.”

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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