'African America' highlights immigrants in MN

You say you want to learn more about African culture? As it turns out, you don't have to travel halfway around the world to do it -- in fact, you don't even have to leave Minnesota.

PERFORMERS IN THE MIXED BLOOD THEATRE PRESENTATION 'African America' included (left to right) Skyler Nowinski, Brittany Bradford and Bruce A. Young, who played the roles of Danil, Margaret and Abraham, respectively. The trio perfomed at M State in Detroit Lakes on Wednesday and the Historic Holmes Theatre on Thursday.

You say you want to learn more about African culture? As it turns out, you don't have to travel halfway around the world to do it -- in fact, you don't even have to leave Minnesota.

There are currently more than 130,000 Minnesotans who were, in fact, born in Africa: Somalia, Liberia and Ethiopia are all well represented here.

These are just a few of the facts that were highlighted by the Mixed Blood Theatre touring production, "African America," which was presented at both M State and the Historic Holmes Theatre this past week.

Though it was presented in a light-hearted fashion, with jokes about the Vikings and other pop culture references, the play's story had some serious undertones as well.

The action centered around a mixed race couple, Danil (played by Skyler Nowinski) and Margaret (played by Brittany Bradford), and Margaret's desire to learn more about her African heritage.


Due to a "magical" wish by Danil, the couple is visited by a genie-like African man named Abraham (played by Bruce A. Young), who seeks to grant Margaret's wish and teach her about her heritage.

But as he tries to do so, he is frequently interrupted by Margaret, who insists that she "doesn't want to talk about African immigrants," but about her heritage, her "African roots."

Danil, who is remarkably well read, also frequently breaks in to tell what he thinks he knows about the subject -- which is quite a lot, as it happens, though he occasionally gets his facts a little mixed up.

The patient Abraham tolerates the couple's eccentricities as he gently tries to teach them that they don't have to look to the past to find Margaret's "roots" -- they're right here in Minnesota.

In the question and answer session that followed Wednesday's presentation at M State, Young said learning all the facts that Abraham presents during the play was "a very eye opening process."

"I felt myself constantly amazed by how diverse the African continent is, and its people," he added, noting that he was also surprised to learn how many of them chose to come to Minnesota, where the climate is about as different from Africa as it gets.

Bradford also noted that one of the key premises of the play was to explore what it truly means to be "African American" -- when so many people of African heritage (including herself) were actually born in the United States.

All three of the actors in the show said that they had never had the opportunity to visit Africa themselves.


Both of this week's presentations by Mixed Blood Theatre were free and open to the public; the performance at M State was hosted by the college's Student Senate, while Thursday's show at the Holmes Theatre was hosted by the Congregational Church of Detroit Lakes.

Mixed Blood is a professional, multi-racial theater company based in Minneapolis that promotes cultural pluralism and individual equality through artistic excellence.

"African America" was written and directed by the multi-talented Warren C. Bowles -- who has performed in the theater's production of "Dr. King's Dream" since 1981. It is one of five culturally-specific productions toured this season by Mixed Blood.

The other touring productions include the Chicano cultural history presentation, "Minnecanos"; Bowles' Martin Luther King biography, "Dr. King's Dream"; "Theory of Mind,: about a young man on the autism spectrum; and "Daughters of Africa," a music-driven history of African American women. (The latter production was also presented at the Holmes Theatre this past fall.)

For more information about Mixed Blood Theatre and its shows, visit .

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
What To Read Next
Get Local