E. Desmond Lee ProfessorAfrican/African-American Theatre, Cinema, Directing, Playwriting, & Acting
Center for International Studies Fellow
'Dr. ‘Niyi Coker, Jr. is E. Desmond Lee Professor in the Department of Theatre, Dance and Media Studies. ‘Niyi Coker Jr., has directed over 50 major stage productions around the world. He has also served as Director for several professional theatre companies ranging from the National Theatre of Nigeria, to Malmo Hogskola in Sweden, Copenhagen, Denmark, Ghana and England.
He is the founding Artistic Director of the African Arts Ensemble in New York City. His theatre directing credits include Ola Rotimi's "The Gods Are Not to Blame" at the Nat Horne Theatre- Off Broadway in New York City, Lewis Nkosi's "The Psychiatrist" at the John Houseman Theatre in New York City (Theatre Row), and at King Alfred’s Theatre in Winchester, England. He has also received the Kennedy Center Merit Award and recognition for Directing.
He received British Council Grant and Support in writing the play, "Endangered Species", which was also performed at John Houseman Theatre in New York and toured several theatres in the United Kingdom. In association with the Southern Ute Tribal Council in Colorado, he wrote the historical play, "Ouray". This is a play based on the 19th century struggles of the Utes in Colorado, against European encroachment. In collaboration with Musician, Dr. Barbara Harbach and Lyricist, Dr. Jonathan Yordy, he wrote and directed the musical “Booth!”, which had its Off-Broadway New York Premiere at the NYU Skirball Theatre. The production of his latest play, “Preemptive” recently toured Barbados, Nigeria, and Great Britain.
His Film writing, directing and producing credits include, "Black Studies USA", which won best short documentary at the 2005 Berlin Black Film Festival in Germany, 2007 Silver Remi Award at Worldfest in Houston, and was Official Selection at the 2007 Hollywood Black Film Festival. He also directed & produced "The Black 14" for FERPA/PBS through the University of Wyoming Television. He has served as Consultant for Black Canyon/HBO Productions Emmy nominated documentary "Fields of Fire". His latest film, “Pennies for the Boatman”, a feature film he directed, based on writer Mario Farwell’s play, “The Seamstress of Saint Francis Street” opened at the Tivoli Cinema theatre in Saint Louis Missouri. He is working on a new documentary film on OTA BENGA.
'Niyi Coker, Jr. received the B.A. in Dramatic Arts from the University of Ife. He received the MFA in Directing from Brooklyn College CUNY, and the Ph.D in African American Studies from Temple University, Philadelphia.
He has published two books; "A Study of the Music and Social Criticism of African Musician Fela Kuti" and "Ola Rotimi's African Theatre: The Development of an Indigenous Aesthetic". His articles have appeared in several newspapers and journals including, the NYU Renaissance Journal, the Journal for Black Studies and the Encyclopedia of Black Studies. He has a book chapter on “Film as Historical Method in Black Studies” in the "Handbook for Black Studies" edited by Molefi Asante and Maulana Karenga, published by Sage Press.
He is a member of the United States Commission for FESMAN III to be held in Dakar, Senegal in 2011. He was recently honored with the 2009 Saint Louis American Excellence in Education Award. He is Festival Director of the Africa World Documentary Film Festival.
Niyi Coker, Jr.
University of Missouri-St.Louis
237 Art Administrarion Building