Full-Length Play, Comedy  /  5w, 3m

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.

Image: 2016 Playwrights Horizons Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    5w, 3m
  • Duration
    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Not Applicable
  • Audience
    Target Audience


Marvelous and Donald, Zimbabwean emigrants in Minnesota, are preparing for the marriage of their eldest daughter, Tendi. They have gracefully blended Zimbabwean culture alongside their American culture, but their house is turned upside down when Marvelous’ sister comes from Zimbabwe to perform a very traditional wedding ceremony in which the groom barters for the bride. Tensions flare and identities clash as the family’s fabric slowly unweaves and they are forced to take a hard look at who they truly are.

After premiering at Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, CT in January 2015, Familiar opened off-Broadway at Playwright's Horizons on 3 March 2016. Directed by Rebecca Taichman, the production featured Ito Aghayere, Joby Earle, Melanie Nicholls-King, Roslyn Ruff, Harold J. Surratt, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Joe Tippett and Tamara Tunie.

Cast Attributes

MARVELOUS CHINYARAMWIRA (MAI TENDI) – An African woman in her mid sixties, matriarch.
– An African woman in her fifties, Marvelous’ youngest sister.
DONALD CHINYARAMWIRA (BABA TENDI) – An African man in his mid sixties, Marvelous’ husband.
NYASHA – American-Zimbabwean young woman, late 20s, Marvelous and Donald’s youngest daughter.
TENDIKAYI – Marvelous and Donald’s oldest daughter.
ANNE (MAI CARROL) – An African woman in her late sixties, Marvelous’ eldest sister.
CHRIS – A Caucasian American man, Tendikayi’s fiancé, mid thirties.
BRAD – A Caucasian American man, Chris’ brother, mid thirties.

  • Time Period New Millennium/21st Century
  • Setting Marvelous and Donald’s house, a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Late 2011.
  • Features Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes
  • Duration 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Cautions
    • Strong Language
    • Mild Adult Themes


“A fiercely funny new play... drawn with sympathy.” – The New York Times

Critics’ Pick! “A fiercely funny new play... Ms. Gurira weaves issues of cultural identity and displacement, generational frictions and other meaty matters into dialogue that flows utterly naturally. Her engaging characters are drawn with sympathy.” – The New York Times, Read More

“Familiar is a vigorous, fresh comedy-drama that ricochets from raw pathos to bawdy laughs, excavating deep cultural anxieties along the way. Gurira may not reinvent the family-secrets genre, but she makes it speak in musical new accents.” – Time Out New York, Read More 

“A good old-fashioned comedy... Gurira has a gift not only for capturing the rhythm of a boisterous family gathering, but making the individual participants distinct, unique, and wholly human.” – TheaterMania, Read More 


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  • Familiar Playwrights Horizons Trailer youtube thumbnail

    Familiar Playwrights Horizons Trailer

  • Danai Gurira and Rebecca Taichman discuss Familiar youtube thumbnail

    Danai Gurira and Rebecca Taichman discuss Familiar

  • Playwrights Horizons cast discuss Familiar youtube thumbnail

    Playwrights Horizons cast discuss Familiar

  • Audiences react to Familiar youtube thumbnail

    Audiences react to Familiar


  • Familiar

    Image: 2015 Yale Repertory Theatre Production (Joan Marcus)

  • Familiar

    Image: 2016 Playwrights Horizons Production (Joan Marcus)

Licensing & Materials

  • Minimum Fee: £55 per performance plus VAT when applicable.
    Performance rights for this title are currently withdrawn in the UK. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.


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Danai Gurira

Danai Gurira is an award-winning playwright and actress. As a playwright, her works include In the Continuum (OBIE Award, Outer Critics Award, Helen Hayes Award), Eclipsed (Tony Award Nomination: Best Play; NAACP Award; Helen Hayes Award: Best New Play; Connecticut Critics Ci ...
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