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Event Calendar

Disgraced

By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Timothy Douglas

April 22 – May 29, 2016
Kreeger Theater

From Ayad Akhtar comes the “breathtaking, raw and blistering” (AP), Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the clash between modern culture and ancient faiths. The son of south Asian immigrants, Amir has worked hard to achieve the American Dream — complete with a successful career, a beautiful wife and $600 custom-tailored shirts. But has he removed himself too far from his roots? And when a friendly dinner party conversation rockets out of control, will the internal battle between his culture and his identity raze all that he’s worked so hard to achieve? Hailed as “terrific, turbulent, with fresh currents of dramatic electricity” (New York Times), this incendiary examination of one’s self and one’s beliefs will leave you breathless.

Disgraced is generously sponsored by Joan and David Maxwell.

Cast

FELICIA CURRY (Jory) makes her Arena Stage debut. Area credits include OLIVÉRio, Chasing George Washington and Beehive (Kennedy Center); A Christmas Carol, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Civil War (Ford’s Theatre); This (Round House Theatre); Home (Rep Stage); Laugh and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Studio Theatre); Les Misérables (Signature Theatre); Imagination Stage; Adventure Theatre MTC; MetroStage; Olney Theatre Center; and Toby’s Dinner Theatre. Regional credits include Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and The Mountaintop (Gulfshore Playhouse), Sister Act (Riverside Center) and The Color Purple (Virginia Repertory Theatre). New York credits include We Three Lizas (Joe’s Pub) and The Brontes (NYMF). Felicia has received four Helen Hayes Award nominations, most recently for playing Nancy in Oliver! (Adventure Theatre). She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park.

JOE ISENBERG (Isaac / Fight Captain) returns to Arena Stage following his performance in A Time to Kill. Additional D.C. credits include The Force of Destiny and Show Boat (Washington National Opera); Marie Antoinette and We Are Proud to Present… (Woolly Mammoth); Young Robin Hood (Round House Theatre); Suicide, Incorporated (No Rules Theatre Company); The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Crave (Signature Theatre); and Macbeth (Folger Theatre). TV credits include Netflix’s House of Cards and PBS’s Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story. Joe’s choreography has been seen at numerous D.C. theaters, as well as at Florida Stage, Actors Theatre of Louisville and the Metropolitan Opera. He is the recipient of the 2013 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Choreography and has received several award nominations.

NEHAL JOSHI (Amir)’s Arena Stage credits include Mother Courage and Her Children, The Music Man, Oklahoma! and Señor Discretion Himself.D.C. credits include Man of La Mancha (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Recent Tragic Events (Woolly Mammoth), Mister Roberts (Kennedy Center) and Venus (Olney Theatre Center). Broadway credits include Les Misérables (original revival cast) and The Threepenny Opera (Roundabout Theatre Company). Off-Broadway credits include Falling for Eve, Working and Who’s Your Baghdaddy? Regional credits include Les Misérables and Arsenic and Old Lace (Dallas Theater Center), Peter and the Starcatcher (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Working (The Old Globe/Asolo Repertory Theatre) and Disney’s The Jungle Book (Goodman Theatre/Huntington Theatre Company). Film/TV credits include The Wire, Blackout and Submissions Only. Video game credits include “World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.” Nehal received a 2013 Drama Desk Award. Twitter: @nehalpjoshi.

SAMIP RAVAL (Abe) hails from Charlotte, North Carolina and makes his Arena Stage debut. Regional credits include Shakespeare Theatre Company, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, PlayMakers Repertory Company and Georgia Shakespeare Festival. Workshop/residency credits include the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and the National Playwrights Conference at Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. His short film The Faucet, which he wrote and directed, screened at the Oxford Film Festival and Toronto Short Film Festival. He has devised theater with artists in Kenya and India and works as a teaching artist with ASTEP in South Florida and New York. He is the recipient of the William R. Kenan Fellowship and attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

IVY VAHANIAN (Emily) is grateful to make her Arena Stage debut working with Timothy on this particular play. In D.C., Ivy worked with PJ Paparelli on Love’s Labour’s Lost (WSC Avant Bard). Broadway and Off-Broadway highlights include Coram Boy (Imperial Theater), …And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi (Sundance Theater Lab at the Public Theater), Toys in the Attic (Pearl Theater Company) and The Sweepers (Urban Stages). Regional highlights include All My Sons (Actors Theatre of Louisville), A Line in the Sand (Virginia Stage Company), Biloxi Blues (Geva Theatre), What Rhymes with America and Time Stands Still (The Producing Unit), Picasso at the Lapin Agile (City Theater) and Antebellum (Hartford Stage). Screen credits include Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Unusually Thicke, Age of Kaos and Behind Closed Doors. Ivy is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University

Creative

AYAD AKHTAR (Playwright) was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a novelist and author of American Dervish, published in over 20 languages worldwide and named a 2012 Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Shelf Awareness and O, The Oprah Magazine. His play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, ran on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre and is currently the most produced play in the country. In addition to Disgraced, his plays The Who & the What and The Invisible Hand received Off-Broadway runs and are currently being produced at theaters across the country. Ayad was listed as the most produced playwright for the 2015/16 season by American Theatre. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has been the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell, Djerassi, the Sundance Institute, Ucross and Yaddo, where he currently serves as a board director. He is also a board trustee at PEN/America.

TIMOTHY DOUGLAS (Director) directed King Hedley II at Arena Stage. D.C. credits include Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), Two Trains Running, The Trip to Bountiful, Permanent Collection and A Lesson Before Dying (Round House Theatre); Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea (2016 Helen Hayes Award nomination) and Insurrection: Holding History (Theater Alliance); The Last Orbit of Billy Mars (Woolly Mammoth); and Much Ado About Nothing (Folger Theatre). Additional credits include Rajiv Joseph’s The Lake Effect (Silk Road Rising), Bronte: A Portrait of Charlotte (Off-Broadway) and the world premiere of August Wilson’s Radio Golf (Yale Repertory Theatre). He has directed for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (associate artist), American Conservatory Theater, The Guthrie, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Center Theatre Group, South Coast Repertory, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, PlayMakers Repertory Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival and Milwaukee Repertory Theater. www.timothydouglas.org

TONY CISEK (Set Designer) has collaborated with Timothy Douglas on over 30 productions including King Hedley II (Arena Stage); Father Comes Home From the Wars, Two Trains Running and A Lesson Before Dying (Round House Theatre); Clybourne Park and Safe House (Cincinnati Playhouse); Insurrection: Holding History and Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea (Theater Alliance); The Trip to Bountiful (Cleveland Play House); Much Ado About Nothing (Folger Theatre); and The Night is a Child (Milwaukee Repertory Theater). For Arena Stage, Tony also designed The Miracle Worker, Oak and Ivy and Dimly Perceived Threats to the System. His work has been seen Off-Broadway and regionally at Roundabout Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, The Guthrie, Ford’s Theatre, Alliance Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Syracuse Stage, NYTW and the Kennedy Center. www.tonycisek.com

TONI-LESLIE JAMES (Costume Designer)’s Broadway credits include Come From Away (2017); Amazing Grace; Lucky Guy; The Scottsboro Boys; Finian's Rainbow; Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life; Ma Rainey's Black Bottom; King Hedley II; One Mo’ Time; The Wild Party; Marie Christine; Footloose; The Tempest; Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; Angels in America: Millennium Approaches & Perestroika; Chronicle of a Death Foretold;and Jelly’s Last Jam. She received a Tony Award nomination, three Drama Desk Award nominations, six Lucille Lortel Award nominations, a Henry Hewes Design Award and four additional nominations, Connecticut Critics Circle Award, Irene Sharaff Young Master Award and the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Costume Design. Toni-Leslie is head of design at Virginia Commonwealth University. For Cosima & Jett with love.

MICHAEL GILLIAM (Lighting Designer)’s Broadway credits include Bonnie and Clyde, Brooklyn, Big River and Stand-Up Tragedy. West End credits include Gershwin Alone and Off-Broadway credits include The Best Is Yet to Come, Striking 12, Blue, End of the World Party, Zooman and the Sign and Menopause the Musical. National tour credits include Looped, Peter Pan, Brooklyn, Guys and Dolls and Big River. Regional theater credits include Alley Theatre, The Old Globe, Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, The Guthrie, Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, the Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Prince Music Theatre, Denver Center and Arizona Theatre Company. Awards include Ovation Awards, Drama-Logue Awards, Garland Awards, San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Awards and the 1999 Career Achievement Award from the LA Drama Critics Circle.

FITZ PATTON (Original Composition and Sound Designer) has designed and scored over 250 productions in 20 cities across the U.S. Recent designs include The Father and Our Mother’s Brief Affair (Manhattan Theatre Club); Blackbird (Broadway); The Humans (Roundabout Theatre Company and Broadway); and Airline Highway (Steppenwolf and Manhattan Theatre Club). He won Lucille Lortel and Drama Desk Awards for When the Rain Stops Falling (Lincoln Center), and was nominated for The Other Place directed by Joe Mantello, which moved to Broadway. His article for Live Design Magazine, “Stochastic Natural Sound Fields,” details his process for the creation of dense, natural soundscapes. His symphony, The Holy Land, is a 45-minute work for baritone, tenor, mezzo-soprano and orchestra. He is the founder of Chance Magazine, a new theater design magazine, and a graduate of Vassar, Bard and Yale University.

CLIFF WILLIAMS III (Fight Director) is happy to return for his ninth production at Arena Stage. Cliff is a native Virginian and has been choreographing and directing for the last 12 years, primarily in the D.C. area. Favorite credits include The Shoplifters, Long Day’s Journey into Night and Gem of the Ocean (Arena Stage); As You Like It (Center Stage); Chimerica (Studio Theatre); Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Woolly Mammoth); Dracula, The Scene and Six Years (Actors Theatre of Louisville); Angels in America (Forum Theatre); and The Argument and Yentl (Theater J). www.CliffWilliamsIII.net

GEOFF JOSSELSON (New York Casting)’s previous Arena Stage credits include All the Way, Oliver!, The Blood Quilt, King Hedley II, Fiddler on the Roof, The Shoplifters, Camp David and The Velocity of Autumn. New York productions include Broadway’s The Velocity of Autumn, Southern Comfort, Yank!, Enter Laughing, Altar Boyz, Septimus and Clarissa, John and Jen and Pretty Filthy. He has cast productions for The York Theatre Company, Bay Street Theater, Barrington Stage Company, Cleveland Play House, Denver Center, Marriott Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Kansas City Starlight Theatre and Sharon Playhouse. In addition to his independent casting office, Geoff teaches master classes around the country and is on faculty at CAP21. www.geoffjosselson.com

AMBER DICKERSON (Stage Manager) has spent over a decade working at Arena Stage and is delighted to return after spending the last several years in New York working on Motown, the Musical with Charles Randolph-Wright. Recent credits include The City of Conversation with Doug Hughes; The Secret Garden with Marcia Milgrom Dodge; Pride and Prejudice and The Whipping Man with Hana Sharif; Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike with Aaron Posner; Pullman Porter Blues with Lisa Peterson; The Normal Heart with George C. Wolfe; Trouble in Mind with Irene Lewis; Dreamgirls with Robert Longbottom (national tour); and Looped with Valerie Harper and Rob Ruggiero in Florida and D.C. Additional credits include Syracuse Stage, Ogunquit Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Festival and Heritage Repertory Theatre. Thanks to God and her family for their continuous love and support!

KRISTEN MARY HARRIS (Assistant Stage Manager) is thrilled to be part of this production at Arena Stage. Favorite Arena Stage credits include The Normal Heart, Red, Mother Courage and Her Children, The Blood Quilt, Fiddler on the Roof and Oklahoma! (Helen Hayes Award). Additional D.C. credits include Road Show, The Threepenny Opera, Miss Saigon and the world premieres of Kid Victory and Crossing (Signature Theatre) and A Christmas Carol (Ford’s Theatre). Kristen holds a B.F.A. in theater production from University of Arizona and is a proud Actors’ Equity Association member.

Video

To Laugh and Cry – Behind-the-Scenes of Disgraced

What do you do when your identity is called into question? In our new video featuring playwright Ayad Akhtar and director Timothy Douglas we take a closer look at our final production of the season.

Photo Gallery

In the news

AYAD AKHTAR ON HIS MUSLIM EXPERIENCE
CBS News
Anthony Mason
Disgraced, which premiered in Chicago three years ago, put Akhtar in the spotlight when it won the Pulitzer Prize… Learn more

PULITZER PRIZE WINNING PLAYWRIGHT ON ISLAMOPHOBIA AND RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM
KQED
Cy Musiker
It was both the best and the worst of timing, as Ayad Akhtar’s play Disgraced opened on Nov. 13. The world was riveted that afternoon by the attacks on Paris, and then a packed house watched this play that seemed to be about the issues behind the attacks and the world’s reaction: Islamophobia, religious extremism, cultural appropriation, intermarriage, anti-semitism, and the breakdown of dialogue across cultures… Learn more

LOSING HIS RELIGION: AYAD AKHTAR DISCUSSES HIS PULITZER-WINNING PLAY DISGRACED
Newsweek
Sean Elder
It’s a story he’s dined out on many times. In March 2012, Pakistani-American author and playwright Ayad Akhtar was doing his first big Q&A, with Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones at an event sponsored by the paper. Akhtar’s first novel, American Dervish, had just been published to rapturous reviews, and Chicago’s American Theater Company was staging the first production of his play Disgraced, which would go on to a Broadway run and a Pulitzer Prize the following year. Both novel and play deal with issues of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and both feature Pakistani-American men behaving badly: drinking, cheating, beating their wives and taking the name of every lord in vain… Learn more

Q&A: AYHAD AKHTAR
The Economist
J.C.T.
Ayhad Akhtar is not just one of the most celebrated American writers of the past few years; he’s also one of the boldest. His tales of Islamic assimilation are as essential today as the work of Saul Bellow, James Farrell, and Vladimir Nabokov were in the 20th century in capturing the drama of the immigrant experience… Learn more

Events

American Identity/American Dream
Friday, April 29, following the 8:00 p.m. performance
Inspired by the themes of identity explored in Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, join us for a special panel discussion on identity politics and the American dream. Is there a middle ground in the space between who we are and how others perceive us? Is the American Dream obtainable for all? How does the current political climate influence our world view? Guest panelists include Dr. Kiran Pervez, Regional Chair for South and Central Asia Area Studies, Foreign Service Institute (FSI), Department of State; Sajid Ajmeri, Vice President, Corporate & Securities and Assistant Secretary of Intelsat S.A.; and Dr. Ghazala Mansuri, Lead Economist, World Bank. This event is hosted in partnership with Muse District.

Post-Show Discussions
Join us for a post-show conversation with the artists on:
May 4 at 12:00 p.m.
May 5 at 8:00 p.m.
May 11 at 12:00 p.m.
May 17 at 12:00 p.m.
May 24 at 7:30 p.m.

In addition, we’ll be hosting post-show conversations with Arena Stage staff after each performance beginning April 22*. The most-produced play of the theater season, Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize winner is inspiring a national dialogue about everything from cultural appropriation in the art world to identity politics to what it means to be an American. Following your performance, join us for a brief discussion about the themes and ideas in the play. Many discussions will be co-moderated by guest community partners.

Special thanks to Nausheen Ilahi of Muse District and our partners at Georgetown University.

(*exceptions: April 28 at 8:00 p.m., May 4 at 12:00 p.m., May 5 at 8:00 p.m., May 11 at 12:00 p.m., May 17 at 12:00 p.m., May 24 at 7:30 p.m. and May 29 at 2:00 p.m.)

Off Book

Welcome to Off Book – Arena Stage's online forum featuring American artists at the top of their game, talking about what they do best. Actors, directors, writers, dramaturgs, designers – unscripted and unrehearsed.

MEET THE ARTISTS: PLAYWRIGHT AYAD AKHTAR
“A good idea for a story is the confluence of two, three, or maybe even four ideas coming together in one idea. One of the streams that was feeding the inspiration for Disgraced was a dinner party at my house in 2006 where the conversation turned to Islam. There was this subtle way in which the conversation shifted people’s relationship with each other in some permanent way. I clocked that that night and thought it was fascinating and would be an interesting dramatic circumstance. Fast forward three years and I’m finally writing a draft of what would eventually become Disgraced.” Read more

MEET THE ARTISTS: DIRECTOR TIMOTHY DOUGLAS
“A play like Disgraced bumps up against the stories that we have told, or are telling, ourselves, to sustain the myth of the ‘Other’ as enemy, void of the acknowledging of our participation in creating it. I think one reason people get so worked up when viewing this play is because of how it reveals its humanity through the way these individual characters respond to extreme scenarios, thus compelling us to see ourselves as being capable of justifying brutal thoughts and acts when feeling threatened.” Read More

ACTOR ROUNDTABLE: THE CAST OF DISGRACED
The cast of Disgraced discusses the play, audience reactions, and the current state of public discourse in America. Read an excerpt of a conversation between actors Felicia Curry (Jory), Joe Isenberg (Isaac), Nehal Joshi (Amir), Samip Raval (Abe), and Ivy Vahanian (Emily). Read more

Accessibility

Audio Described

May 14 at 2:00 pm
May 22, 6:00 pm

Open Captioned

May 18 at 7:30 pm
May 26 at 8:00 pm