HOME > Upcoming Performances > Anansi, the Story King

Upcoming Performances
Anansi, the Story King

adapted and directed by
Nadine George-Graves

March 16 - 18

Arthur Wagner Theatre

About the Play

Anansi, the spider, wants to own all the stories in the world. Nyame, the sky god, has all the stories and is willing to give them to Anansi…for a steep price. When Sheri, the firefly, gets caught in Anansi’s web, she quickly figures out how to help him on his quest (and perhaps save herself at the same time)! With Sheri’s help, Anansi goes on a journey to find Nyame’s three items. Along the way, he finds out a thing or two about himself and the ways in which we are all connected, like the complex tangle of a spider’s web. An ensemble provides stories, music, singing and dancing as the two adventurers help Anansi fulfill his lifelong wish. Family friendly and for all ages!

Check out Anansi's Community Engagement website:


About the Director

Dr. Nadine George-Graves is Professor of Theater and Dance at the University of California, San Diego and president of the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD). Her work is situated at the intersections of African American studies, gender studies, performance studies, theatre history, and dance history. She is the author of The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville: The Whitman Sisters and the Negotiation of Race, Gender, and Class in African American Theater, 1900-1940 and Urban Bush Women: Twenty Years of Dance Theater, Community Engagement and Working It Out as well as numerous articles on African American theater and dance. She is the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater. She has also written on primitivity, ragtime dance, tap dance legend Jeni LeGon, identity politics and performance, early African American theater and the future of field. She has given talks, led community engagement projects, and has served on boards and committees in the field.

She is also an adapter and director. Her recent creative projects include Architectura, a dance theater piece about the ways we build our lives, Suzan-Lori Parks’ Fucking A and Topdog/Underdog; and an original adaptation of Anansi stories using college students, professionals, and 4th graders.

Director's Statement

“To Kamila, Akeem & Akil, Your life is not complete until you’ve read ‘Anansi’ stories. Many blessings upon you, Sincerely, Kristin 1994.”

This is the inscription in a used book of Anansi stories that I purchased at a quaint little website. The packaging slip says it came from a bookseller in Cascade, Colorado. I think about provenance, legacy, and connections. I think about where this book of stories might have traveled. Who are these people? What is their relationship? It is a mighty big statement to say that one must know Anansi stories to have a complete life. What does it mean that it made its way to me? The journey of not only this book of Anansi stories but of all Anansi stories is part and parcel of the stories of African Diaspora. I first encountered Anansi stories as a child on a trip to Jamaica to visit my maternal relatives. My aunt Gerry, a school teacher in Spanish Town, gave me a copy of Anansi and Miss Lou and thus began my fascination with Anansi stories. As a child Anansi was a distinctly Carribean experience for me. Only later did I understand the Diasporic connections possible through the Anansi figure. Rereading these texts inspired me to create the aesthetic and academic investigation that has become The Anansi Project.

Anansi was/is a god, man, sometimes woman and spider. He is at times a trickster and at other times the one tricked. He rarely works for his food, which leads some to define him as lazy. Yet he always manages to eat, which lead some to define his as clever. Survival: Anansi survives in the stories and his stories have survived over hundreds of years, across oceans, in both oral and written forms. I see the web of stories that Anansi spins as a metaphor for the ways in which we remain connected to people over time, geography, cultural differences, etc. Like a 21st century notion of African Diaspora, our production of Anansi, the Story King is a postmodern mash-up of cultural influences that explores different ways of meaningfully connecting with others.

These stories have significant reach, occurring in all parts of the African Diaspora in one form or another. They span the globe like a giant game of cultural telephone taking on local nuances while maintaining Diasporic similarities. Two stories in particular, Anansi Becomes the Owner of All Stories and Anansi and the Pot of Wisdom, have Anansi negotiating with Nyame, the sky god, for sole proprietorship of essential qualities—history/memory and knowledge. These quests articulate projects crucial to critical race and Diasporic theory. In addition to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (or property) the transatlantic slave trade also attempted to deny the acquisition of information and the maintenance of tradition.

Like internet spidering, this production seeks to reach out, connect and gather. I hope you’ll join us on this wonderful creative and intellectual exploration.

The Cast

Reanne Acasio
Gina Cioffi
Paloma Dominguez
Vivian Dong
Emma Epps
Danielle Hall
Colette Hamilton
Shellina Hefner
Nate Le
Micaela Martinez
Ally McGreevy
Sophia Oberg
Kristine Osborne
Sarah Prentiss
Jeffery Sims
Olivia Torres
Andrew Walters
Jess Washabaugh
Kiana Wells

The Creative Team

Adapter/Director – Nadine George-Graves
Composer – M’Balia Singley
Arranger – Kenny Seymore
Musical Director – Kyle Adam-Blair
Scenic / Props Designer – Mikhaila Powers
Costume Designer – Evan Kwong
Lighting Designer – Minjoo Kim
Community Outreach Coordinator – Alison Urban
Producer – Nicholas Lewis
Assistant Director – Jim Short
Assistant Costume Designer –  Vicky Nguyen
Production Stage Manager –  Kasson Marroquin
Assistant Stage Manager – Bryan P. Clements
Production Assistant – Jalani Blankenship

Performances Parking & Location

Located at: Arthur Wagner Theatre

Parking Passes Required: Monday through Friday. Weeknight passes are $2 per vehicle from the vending machines located in the UC San Diego Theatre District/La Jolla Playhouse parking lots and entry display case. Please remember your parking space number. You will need it to purchase your parking pass.

Note: Machines take all major credit cards except Discover and when paying with cash you must use exact change, NO CHANGE GIVEN.

Parking Passes Not Required: Saturdays and Sundays


Cars without permits are subject to ticketing by UCSD Campus Police. The Theatre & Dance Department does not have the authority to waive and cannot pay parking tickets.





Mar. 16

Mar. 17

Mar. 18

Mar. 18

Mar. 18
7:30 pm

7:30 pm

10:00 am

2:00 pm

7:30 pm

Advance tickets for this production are available Tuesday-Friday, noon to 6 pm by calling the Box Office at 858.534.4574 or in person at the Theatre District’s Central Box Office at the Sheila & Hughes Potiker Theatre.

At-the-Door tickets, if available, can be purchased one hour before show time at the performing theatre’s box office at Mandell Weiss Theatre.

General Admission: $20
UCSD Faculty/Staff/Alumni Association, and Seniors (over 62): $15
UCSD Students/UCSD Alumni Association (with ID): $10

Please note: No late seating; no refunds.

Theatre & Dance Faculty, Staff & Majors Only >>


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