Philip Effiong

effiongp@msu.edu
(517) 884-7802

FacultyTheatre

Associate Professor
Theatre Studies

Biography

Philip Uko Effiong is a teaching-focused Professor of Theatre Studies and Integrative Humanities at Michigan State University (MSU). He has been teaching at the college level for over 25 years and holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He received his Master’s in Literature of the African Diaspora and Bachelor’s in English, both from the University of Calabar, Nigeria. Prior to joining MSU in the Spring of 2017, Philip taught drama, fiction, nonfiction, orature, and writing at the University of Calabar, Nigeria; Regent University College of Science and Technology, Ghana; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; the University of Tennessee, Martin; the University of Delaware, Newark; Lincoln University, Pennsylvania; and Morehouse College, Atlanta.

With a growing interest in interdisciplinarity, Philip teaches drama, fiction, nonfiction, and history classes at MSU. His research interests also crisscross multiple disciplines and include:

• Appropriating and performing divine authority as a tool for wielding dictatorial power.
• Performance (dance, music, song, drama, oral traditions) as a survival and resistance tool among Jamaican Maroons, the Garifuna, and other Caribbean communities.
• Influence of European drama and Greek tragedy on African and African diasporic drama.
• Historical narratives that redefine African achievements in education, architecture, science, healthcare, war, and astronomy.
• Biafran refugee descendants in the Ivory Coast and Gabon.
• The music of Nigerian legend, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.
• African diaspora in India and the Philippines.

Philip’s work as a consultant has helped diversify his writing across multiple areas, including technical manuals, coffee table books, development proposals, reports, and newsletters. He has also worked in information technology as an Oracle programmer.

Philip has published a novel, a book on African American drama, and several articles covering topics on Africa, the African diaspora, and the humanities. As a creative writer, he has completed several fictional and nonfictional manuscripts, including his memoir on the Nigeria-Biafra war, recently accepted for publication by Pen and Sword Books in the UK.

Artist Statement

I am an artist with a passion for information dissemination, which may be in the form of writing, analyzing, presenting, teaching, or working in partnerships. Most importantly, I embrace communicative methods that utilize or rely on images and action, including drama, dance, music, and documentary. Of all these genres, though drama has been the primary medium through which I have learned, assessed, and expressed information, I am increasingly exploring opportunities to collaborate on documentaries that examine little-known cultures and historical experiences. 

I am an artist because various artistic genres constitute the gateway to understanding key aspects of our intricate and rich humanity. For me, there is nothing like art for the sake of art. Art, in its most useful and responsible form, should instruct, enlighten, expose, and heal. This is because art has the potential to address all facets of existence: history, politics, culture, conflict, religion, relationships, industry, society, science, and even the unknown. The list is endless. Among various artistic forms, theatre and drama offer a fundamental means through which to merge art with visuals and action, which are further reinforced by related components like music, sound, and photographic effects. 

It is for the above reasons that I remain a drama teacher and collaborator on productions and interactive spaces where narratives are reinforced by visual and audial effects.

Awards and Honors

Courses

THR 331 Contemporary Theatre in Historical Context

THR 332 Africa American Drama and Performance

IAH 205 Africa and the World

IAH 211A Africa – Area Studies

ENG 350 African & African Diaspora Literature

ENG 140 Literature and Society

THR 110N Theatrical Play Analysis for Non-Theatre Majors

Publications

In Search of a Model for African American Drama. Lanham: University Press of America, 2000.

Review of anthology, African Women Playwrights (2009). CONTINUUM:  A Journal of African/Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance. 3 Number 2: (November/December 2016).

“Unleashing Power from Within: Rejecting the Foreign Aid Farce.” West Africa Review 24 (2014): 22-40. Print.

“Forty Years Later, the War Hasn’t Ended.” The Nigeria Biafra War. Ed. Chima J. Korieh. New York: Cambria Press, 2012. 261-276. Print.

“Haya” and “Ginen.” Encyclopedia of African Religion. 2009. Print.

“Baraka, Amiri” and “Drama, African American.” Encyclopedia of Africa and the Americas. Vol. 1. 2008. Print.

“Hansberry, Lorraine.” Encyclopedia of Africa and the Americas. Vol. 2. 2008. Print.

“Pageant, The African American” and “Shange, Ntozake.” Encyclopedia of Africa and the Americas. Vol. 3. 2008. Print.

“History, Myth, and Revolt in Hansberry’s Les Blancs.” African American Review 32:2 (Summer 1998): 273-283. Print.

“Civil Rights Movement in Literature” and “Nation of Islam in Literature.” Identities and Issues in Literature. Eds. David R. Peck and Eric Howard. Pasadena: Salem Press, 1997. Print.

Twenty entries on “Drama and Film.” Dictionary of Twentieth Century Culture. African American Culture Volume. 1996. Print.

“The Subliminal to the Real: Musical Regeneration in Ntozake Shange’s Boogie Woogie Landscapes.” Theatre Studies 39 (1994): 33-43. Print.

“Tracing the Nigerian Literary Heritage,” Nigeria: The People and Their Culture. Ed. J. U. Obot. Calabar: Wusen Press, 1987. 214-224. Print.

University News

MSU Outreach Effort Celebrates Works of Black Playwrights
Published April 6, 2022 in College of Arts & Letters
Zoom screenshot of six individuals and 3 groups of students.
A group of Michigan State University faculty and students from the Department of Theatre in collaboration with the Wharton Center Institute for Arts & Creativity led an effort to bring the Next…Read now »
Department of Theatre to Present Sexual Politics Series
Published November 6, 2018 in College of Arts & Letters
a blue ribbon
MSU’s Department of Theatre is proud to present its Sexual Politics Series, a unique and timely performance of published and ensemble-created works exploring how theatre, as an art form, has illuminated, illustrated, and even misrepresented issues of discrimination, empowerment, and abuse on several levels.Read now »