|Raised in a working-class white family in a Chicago suburb by my Armenian-American mother and adoptive stepfather, I began a search for my long-lost biological father at the age of 34 when my mother and stepfather announced their divorce. In a miraculous first phone call to John Sidney Woods, my father says, "There are some things I'm sure your mother never told you". He told me then that not only has he always loved me and thought about me, but also, that he is black.
Imagine discovering you are not the person you thought you were. That you have a family, a history, an ethnicity you never knew. How would this discovery impact your life, the lives of those around you, your vision of yourself and society?
The quest for my father revealed more than I ever imagined. Not only did I develop a new, more comfortable relationship with my sense of identity but I also uncovered a rich, black heritage. This life-changing revelation, the connections I made with my "new" paternal family, and the questions that my new-found identity raised in relationship to how we perceive race in America, inspired me to create my one-man play, Incognito in 2001. Incognito is the story of my journey to uncover and discover my self, my roots, my family, and the difficult history behind the tragic American complexity of "race".
Since 2001, I have performed Incognito throughout the country, inviting audiences to question and discuss their thoughts on race and identity as I have come to question and embrace my own. Incognito has been invited to arts venues, educational institutions, corporations and government agencies, including Northwestern University, Penn State, the Sundance Institute, NASA, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Social Security Administration, the National Training Center for the U.S. Army at Ft. Irwin, and the Black Academy of Arts & Letters. I also teach a series of rich, experiential workshops in conjunction with my performance to facilitate deeper inquiry into our personal experiences with family heritage, inclusion, identity and bias for those who are in need of a lengthier, more rigorous educational program.
People often ask if I've grown tired of performing my story after 10 years of sharing it with the American public, and the answer is ... absolutely not. I am constantly amazed and honored by the impact my performance and workshops have on the communities I visit. My audiences and students, people of all ages and backgrounds, consistently reach out to me to share their own personal struggles with identity and race, inspired by the very public and personal discussion my show evokes. My desire to speak to even more people compelled me to publish my story in my autobiographical novel, "Incognito: An American Odyssey of Race & Self-Discover" (2011). It is my hope to continue for as long as I can to address the very real need I see to change the way we talk about race in America.
Please feel free to explore the website for more details on Incognito and where it's traveled, to order a DVD or book, to receive promotional materials from us or to find more info on booking. If you'd like to discuss a visit to your area, feel free to call me at 312-563-1326. I am always happy to speak with people directly about how we can work together and make an impact on your community. I look forward to your call.
Michael Sidney Fosberg
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