EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS:
STUDENT/TEACHER RESPONSES

Praise from students, teachers, and theater patrons….

“At the risk of sounding false, I will say that “Incognito” changed me. The show taught all of us in the audience, but it did so incognito, under the guise of fascinating theatre. Beneath Fosberg”s captivatingly twisted journey lies a simple explanation of how families work, and sometimes, don”t. The presentation is direct, yet entertaining, the performance is human yet out of this world. Nevertheless, the inspiring energy of the piece never clouds over the simple truths at its core. And that, to say the least, is refreshing.”
—Jake Cohen, student, Northwestern University


“The show was wonderful. There was not a moment where I wasn”t glued to my chair desperately awaiting the next piece of the story to unfold. One of my favorite aspects was when you would stop the story to address the audience…that had a huge impact on me. In particular right after your father told you he was African-American and you looked at us later asking if our perceptions of you had changed in that moment, if your skin got darker, nose got larger…that was so powerful. There was no way to escape those questions when we were confronted by them so frankly. I believe the show is just as much a commentary on social biases and situations, how times have changed, and differences in culture then, as it is about your life…why your mom left, why she didn”t tell you, how you were embraced by your fathers parents.”
—Rachel Silverman, student, Wesleyan University


“Incognito is amazing and it deserves to be shared with everyone who can possibly see it!”
—Amanda Culp, student, Vassar College


“Michael did a wonderful job setting the tone for bringing together the intellect and the emotion. His compelling portrayal of his family raised hard questions for many audience members of our assumptions of who we believe others– and ourselves– to be. He asked us to both challenge and acknowledge stereotypes, wrestle with internal and external identity issues and to see the human need for empathy and care. He captured the attention of our students; causing them to turn off cell phones and ipods and he left us wanting more– no small feat for a high school audience! Next time we need to have him do his entire piece and stay for the whole day. ”
—Heather Flewelling, Director of Student Multicultural Affairs, Milton Academy


I am one of the students for whom you performed today at Lakeside High School in Seattle, WA. I thought your performance was remarkable and thought-provoking. Your subject matter certainly raises a number of interesting questions that are important to our generation as we’re figuring out our own identities and where we fit in to our respective communities. In a school that repetitively emphasizes the (clearly important) idea of “diversity” in a way that makes the student body tired of talking about it, your performace was a fresh and welcome change! Your story will stick with me.
—Weston Gaylord, student, Lakeside School


Dear Mr. Fosberg,

I just wanted to thank you for bringing your play -your life?- to us in Emerson today. I had no idea what the performance would entail – we’ve been having a lot of assemblies on bullying and kindness and I assumed something related – and was consequently surprised (pleasantly?) by the performance. It is heartwarming to me that one of our students was so moved by you that he wanted to share you with us. I can only hope there were a few more of him in the audience today. But having touched that one, you will touch many, as I am sure he is better for having known you.

Thank you again, and may you continue shedding light upon many as you go along this path you are following.
—Student, Emerson University


Michael,

Since seeing your show a few weeks ago, I have been meaning to drop you a note of appreciation for sharing your story. Like you, I was born in 1957 to an interracial couple. Unlike you, I grew up aware of my mixed racial background in a neighborhood that was a haven for biracial families within a world that was largely hostile to them. I was struck, though, by your experience over the past decade or so of being a part of, and embracing, both worlds. I, too, have experienced a fluidity between racial worlds that is rare in our generation. Though there are difficult and embarrassing moments at times, I feel a special grace in being able to bridge a gap that limits the experience of so many people, black, white and otherwise. As I left your show, I heard a lot of people asking questions of one another – beginnings of thinking about race in a different way. Of course, America has a long way to go. But I appreciate your sharing such a personal experience that moves people to look at things just a little differently. Thanks.
—Claire Hartfield, theater patron


I am an instructor at Whatcom Community College where I saw you perform today. Thank you; thank you.
—Mary Mele, teacher, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA


I was wondering if you had any advice for someone who is searching for their real dad. I loved your play it was so funny at the end.
—Daniel Gordon, Student, Richmond High School, Richmond, WI


Michael,
I very much enjoyed meeting you finally, and I appreciate your willingness to teach my English class, the workshop at the end, your willingness to work for less than you normally charge, your generosity with the audience, the questions, me, the hassle of getting you here, all of it. Our kids and our teachers have high standards, even though they always say everything is wonderful, but you definitely moved the bar. They got it. Adults and students were thrilled. As I told you, I had tears in my eyes at times(I’m a very tough sentimental sell – this does not happen much). I got triggered about “identity” questions of my own, even though, in my case, the mystery isn’t about race. So thank you for that as well.
— Jim Honeyman, teacher, Newton South High School, Newton, MA


Thank you Michael. The show was wonderful and the audience really seemed moved by it. I’m so glad that you were able to come to campus.
—Emily Half, Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA


I just wanted to thank you for your presentation, I know your show and ensuing Q & A session resonated very deeply with our kids. I have talked with a number of faculty members who all agreed that this was one of the best assembly presentations that we’ve seen, and we have indeed had many good ones. So, thank you for what you do, for your honesty and your openness about your own life, and for your willingness to speak to the kids with affirmation for their views on race and without pandering.
—Adam Ross, College Counsler, Lakeside School, Seattle, WA


Dear Michael,

I’m glad you had the opportunity to share your piece and your story with the School. I was pleased to support the students in their efforts to bring us something that would provoke ongoing discussion about issues that continue to profoundly affect American society.

I’m glad that it has resonated so strongly across so many communities and I’m sure the book will only add to the momentum.

—Elizabeth Bradley, Head of Drama School, Carnegie Mellon University


Thanks for tonight. What a gift. You should get Barack Obama to your show. I worship him – maybe he’d ask you to be his running mate (:

Seriously, folks, Tom and I think your show takes people where they need to go in the racial landscape- crosses the racial divide, literally. I think Obama would embrace the book and should make it part of his campaign. Find out who his new campaign manager is and get it into her/his hands!

—Gina Raith, theater patron


I believe young people today need the message you bring more than ever. Racism is alive and well ad we must attack it with everything e have. Keep doing your work, you are making a difference, changing things for the better, one show at a time.
—Elizabeth Wilson, Head Librarian, Lincoln University, Jefferson City, MO


Dear Michael,
I am a Branson School parent and was a member of the audience on Thursday evening. Thank you for your inspiring performance and for the outreach you provided to our children during your daytime performance. My son and I are continuing to discuss the play and its impact on us.
—Rachel Markun, parent of student at The Bransen School, Ross, CA


AND LASTLY! A long and very thoughtful piece from a student…..

I found that the performance today did a more effective job than almost anything I have experienced of illustrating issues of racial identity. He stayed away from shoving his own beliefs down our throats and as a result I was able to relax and honestly be affected by his words. I had not read the website’s or your description of the piece ahead of time and had no idea where it was going so I didn’t walk into it with my typical sarcastic, oh great another political correctness assembly mindset. instead I viewed it as I would view any piece of theater, as a person’s personal journey which kept me involved and interested. I felt myself empathizing with him as he discovered pieces of his own biological heritage even though his experiences were completely foreign to me. By far my favorite part of the piece was when he stepped out and spoke directly to the audience, challenging us and questioning the way our view of him had changes over the course of only minutes. Although I do not specifically remember his questions now, I do remember that they all rang true and made me think and question my own racial biases or subconscious beliefs in a setting where no one was attacking and I did not have to be on the defensive.

I was also struck by his references to Martha’s Vineyard as they were our most common reference point seeing as I have spent every summer of my life there. When he began to talk about a famous beach, I immediately assumed it was the beach that my father, who claims to be quite the beach aficionado, drags me to every year. When he mentioned the inkwell, I had never heard the word before in my life. It made me realize that on the beach I go to, as far as I can remember, I have never seen an African American person. Over dinner tonight, I asked my parents about the Inkwell and they explained to me that it had great historical and cultural significance and that the whole island served as part of the underground railroad. I am shocked that I had never once heard any part of this. going back to performance itself, while I really loved the seemingly universal issues it raised and how much he avoided putting white people on the defensive, I did find one or two places where I felt uncomfortable or unsure of how to react. If I were seeing the piece in a dark theater, or even any theater full of strangers, I would have reacted honestly. In a room full of my peers, however, I felt paranoid that as I white student I might laugh at the wrong thing, something that I shouldn’t respond to. I don’t think that anyone made the audience feel unsafe to laugh, but personally I did feel unsure and embarrassed a few times when he was extremely exaggerated or stereotyped, because I felt like he was doing things he could only get away with because he was partly African American.

However, I remember realizing when he asked us whether in our eyes his features had changes after our finding out about his race, that all along, as much as I believed the piece, I kept thinking he was referring to another person, that his protagonist was someone other than himself.

Subconsciously, I couldn’t believe that he was partly black and that all of these experiences were his own. I also appreciated his honesty in lines such as the one about applying to colleges knowing he was black.

All in all, relating the piece back to class, I think it did something that we have been trying to get at for a while. I feel that it effectively commented on race in a way that all of us on equal footing and allowed us to all identify with some aspect of his journey and his identity. I think it is a piece that I personally will continue to think about for while, and that is saying something since this topic is one which I typically feel is discussed way too much, or in the wrong way!

—Student, Milton Academy, Milton, MA