It’s winter in Minnesota, and a Zimbabwean family is preparing for the wedding of their eldest daughter, a first-generation American. But when the bride insists on observing a traditional African custom, it opens a deep rift in the household. Rowdy and affectionate, Familiar pitches tradition against assimilation, drawing a loving portrait of a family: the customs they keep, and the secrets they bury.
Danai Gurira first burst upon the scene in 2006 as co-creator and performer (with Nikkole Salter) of In the Continuum, a timely, intimate, and powerful AIDS play about two women on two continents, linked through illness, that went on to productions throughout the country and the world.
Danai Gurira has described herself as a “Zimerican.” Among the first wave of emigrants were her parents, academics who emigrated from Rhodesia to the United States in the 1960s to work at Grinnell College in Iowa; her father was a chemistry professor, and her mother a librarian.
The concept of “bride price” or “bridewealth” refers to money, property, or other forms of wealth paid by a groom or his family to the parents of the woman he is to wed. The practice has roots in many ancient cultures, and continues to play a significant role in marriage rituals and customs throughout the world today.