Othello (Sidney Harman Hall: FEB 23-MAR 27)
This is my favorite Shakespeare tragedy; I love it even MORE than Hamlet! In this production Othello will be played by a Pakistani-American actor- Faran Tahir. VERY exciting… I’m going to be seeing it SUN, FEB 28 (7:30PM).
Some of you will recognize him from the first Iron Man movie and the J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot films.
Use promo code OTHELLO20 for 20% off price.
Disgraced (Arena Stage: APR 22-MAY 29)
I’m VERY excited to go see this play; one of my gal pals and I got tickets as part of a package! Actor-turned novelist and playwright, Ayad Akthar (who I blogged about before) won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for this play, which was also his first.
This play is being produced in 40 different theaters in the 2015-2016 season- WOW! In some ways, it looks to be a simple domestic play, as it has only one set and five actors. The play is set in the Upper West Side Manhattan apartment of South Asian American corporate lawyer, Amir, and his artist wife, Emily. They hold a small dinner party w/ Amir’s work friend Johri, an African-American woman, and her secular Jewish husband, Isaac. As the night goes on, more and more alcohol is consumed, the conversation gets heated- the mood of the play turns serious. Amir, who seems to have totally separated himself from his Pakistani and Muslim identities, is revealed as a complex and troubled man.
I read this play less than 2 years ago, after seeing clips about the Lincoln Center production (which starred The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi). One of my acquaintances saw it when it premiered on Broadway; Hari Dhillon (an Indian-American of Sikh heritage) played the lead role. The PBS Newshour piece (see video below) features Dhillon and How I Met Your Mother actor Josh Radnor (who played Isaac).
Akthar said that he wrote this play “for the global Muslim audience” (many of whom will never see it, given restrictions on freedom of speech) and the “typical (mostly white) theatergoing audience here in the U.S.” Something important to keep in mind- the major influences for Disgraced were Othello and Death of A Salesman by Arthur Miller.
The Who & The What (Round House Theatre – Bethesda: MAY 25 -JUNE 16)
“The Who & the What” (the title of Zarina’s novel)… explores intergenerational and interfaith conflicts with fluid eloquence and intelligence. Mr. Akhtar writes dialogue that, while often funny and always natural, crackles with ideas and continually reveals undercurrents of tension that ratchet up the emotional stakes. -Charles Isherwood (NYT) re: 2014 Lincoln Center production
I read this play soon after Disgraced. It focuses on an upper-class Pakistani-American family in Atlanta, which includes the father, a widower and religious Muslim- Afzal (who runs successful donut shops) and his two daughters- complicated and intellectual Zarina and the more simple and beautiful Mahwish. Since his younger daughter is almost done w/ grad school and unofficially engaged to her (father-approved, Pakistani-American) beau, Afzal is eager to find a husband for Zarina, who is around 30 at the start of the story. (It may remind you a bit of The Taming of the Shrew.) Like MANY people, Afzal turns to an online platform for Muslim singles; he meets a smart and caring man who is a white convert. Eli, who grew up in Detroit with liberal parents and many Muslim friends, is the imam of a small and humble masjid. Zarina decides to give Eli a chance, but her main focus is a book on the life and times of Prophet Muhammad. The topic of this book is VERY controversial- it could jeopardize her closest relationships!
PWYC: WED, MAY 25 (7:30 PM) & SAT, MAY 28 (2 PM)
Ayad Akthar’s TED Talk