Living in a Box, Living Incognito

by Rebecca Rhodes

WVU Parkersburg welcomed author Michael Fosberg on Feb. 12 to present the one-man show “Incognito.” The one-hour theatrical program, in which Fosberg acted out 12 different characters, discussed race, identity, diversity and inclusion.  

“Incognito” follows Fosberg’s cross-country trip to find and interview family members and discover who he truly is. His mother and father’s divorce spurred the journey along to find his biological father whom Fosberg discovers is African American.

Fosberg never knew his real father, and finding out that his Armenian mother married an African American was a shock. He had always defined himself as “white.”

“Everyone told me that they knew I was black. What they didn’t know was the shame, ridicule and confusion that would come with having an unknown and mixed heritage. We all have different perceptions on race, but what we need to realize is that we have more in common than we don’t,” Fosberg said.

A part of Fosberg’s presentation is creating an open dialogue on race, diversity and inclusion. Not to mention, he has provided audience’s across the nation with seven tools to have a conversation on race. The seven tools include: 

“The dialogue about race, identity and inclusion is one that we need to have not just one day or one month, but a conversation we need to have year round,” Fosberg said.

Despite his open and charismatic personality onstage and in-person, Fosberg was very shy and backwards as a child. However, he caught the theatre bug after a high-school performance. That bug caused him to pursue a degree in theatre from the University of Minneapolis. Now, he performs an average of 60 presentations a year for universities, companies and organizations such as, Harvard, Proctor and Gamble, the Boeing Company and the Social Security Administration.

“I found that I could hide who I really was up onstage, and become someone else. The irony in this all is that my storytelling today is about the discovery of self. As a human being, this is all really about coming into my own through performing and experience,” Fosberg said. Fosberg appeared on national media like CNN and NPR, Fosberg founded the Small Change Original Theatre in Minneapolis, served as the director of education for the Living Library in Los Angeles and co-founded Chicago’s Huron Theatre Ensemble.

The WVU Parkersburg Social Justice Committee will host educator, writer and filmmaker Greg Baird on March 22 to present, “Disarming Hate and Bigotry.” This multimedia lecture will engage the audience and share how to be proactive in healing, educating and embracing the idea of inclusion.

For more information, contact Debbie Richards at Debbie.Richards@wvup.edu