"Kaneza Schaal was 25 when her father died of malaria in 2010. Her first impulse was to stay in New York, not fly to the funeral in Burundi, where he lived when he wasn’t in the East Village. At the time, she was working with immigrant students at a school in Chelsea, and she saw no reason to interrupt that.
“I thought: ‘This is such a great way to honor my dad. I don’t really need to go back,’” Ms. Schaal, an experimental theater artist, said recently in the basement of Westbeth Artists Community in the West Village, where she was surrounded by the papyrus and gold of her new show’s set-in-progress. “I grew up in California: ‘Oh, whatever, I’ll be there in spirit.’”
The African branch of her clan, with roots in Rwanda, thought otherwise. “My family was like, ‘You know, Kaneza, I think you might want to come.’ And I went, and I had to be there. I could not have not been there, and I didn’t know that.”