Goodman Theatre Presents DISGRACED Running Sept. 12- Oct. 18

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unnamed (40)On the heels of its Broadway smash success, Disgraced by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, novelist, screenwriter and actor Ayad Akhtar returns to the city of its birth in a new production at Goodman Theatre this fall. Directed by Kimberly Senior and critically lauded as “breathtaking, raw and blistering” (Associated Press), “ingenious and shockingly believable” (New York Magazine) and “terrific, turbulent, with fresh currents of dramatic electricity” (New York Times), Disgraced received impassioned audience response for its bold exploration of identity, religion, politics and class in the complex “politically correct” landscape of 21st century urban America. The Goodman’s production, co-produced with Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Seattle Repertory Theatre, stars Bernard White as Amir Kapoor, a successful Muslim-American lawyer; Nisi Sturgis as Emily, Amir’s wife and a visual artist; Zakiya Young as Jory, Amir’s co-worker; J. Anthony Crane as Isaac, Jory’s husband; and Behzad Dabu as Amir’s nephew Abe—a role he originated in Disgraced’s 2012 world premiere in Chicago. The design team includes John Lee Beatty (Set); Christine A. Binder (Lighting); Jennifer von Mayrhauser (Costume); and Jill DuBoff (Sound). Joe Drummond is the Production Stage Manager.

Disgraced appears September 12 – October 18 (Press Night is September 20) in the Albert Theatre. Running time is 82 minutes, no intermission. Tickets ($25-$82; subject to change) are on sale now by phone at 312.443.3800, at GoodmanTheatre.org/Disgracedor at the box office (170 North Dearborn). The Goodman’s Season Opening Celebration honoring the Artistic Collective and featuring the Opening Night Performance of Disgracedtakes place on September 21. Tickets start at $500 and include pre-show cocktails and dinner at The Standard Club, followed by the 8pm performance. Season Opening Celebration Co-Chairs are Julie and Roger Baskes and Marcy and Harry Harczak. Proceeds from the event support the Goodman’s productions and education and engagement programs. Abbott Fund is the Sponsor Partner for Disgraced.

Disgraced is neither a solemn political polemic nor an impassioned plea for a particular point of view. Wittily engaging and smart, Ayad’s brilliant play shows us successful, intelligent characters grappling with questions that cannot be readily answered or easily solved—in a society whose quest for correctness and justice may have resulted in neither,” said Artistic Director Robert Falls. “I am very pleased to open our new season with this astonishing new work—and welcome Kimberly Senior, whose production ofRapture, Blister, Burn was a highlight of our 2014/2015 season, back to the Goodman.”

Disgraced will be produced at 10 major American regional theaters this season and have 32 productions in the next 24 months, as well as numerous productions overseas; in addition, a film version with HBO is in the works.

“I’m thrilled that Disgraced returns to Chicago, and honored to be at the Goodman,” said Ayad Akhtar. “The play seems to function as a kind of litmus test; it tells you where you are in society, and has the capacity to connect people to themselves and others in a heartfelt way. I’ve gotten an equal amount of feedback from both sides of the Muslim community; some ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’ and others say, ‘Thank God you are doing this!’ Much work was done at every stage of development of Disgraced, but it finally feels like it has found its most mature form.”

“When audiences interact with Disgraced, they think they’ll align with the person who looks like them or who has the same background as they do—and they find very quickly that’s not the case,” said Kimberly Senior. “As an Arab-Jewish woman, I never feel more Jewish than when I’m the only Jew in the room; and the least Jewish I felt was when I was in Israel. I think the play makes the characters stand by their identities and defend their point of view in a way they might not otherwise because each of them is a minority.”

Disgraced begins innocuously enough. Young, upwardly mobile Wall Street attorney (and lapsed Muslim) Amir Kapoor (Bernard White) and his beautiful, idealistic (and Caucasian) artist wife Emily (Nisi Sturgis) are throwing a small dinner party for a similarly successful couple, Isaac (J. Anthony Crane), a Jewish art curator who’s about to feature his hostess’s paintings in a new show, and his African American wife, Jory (Zakiya Young), also a rising young lawyer, who works in the same office as her host.  At first, the talk is mundane but cordial: the latest loss by the Knicks, a fancy dessert picked up at Magnolia Bakery, gossipy chat about the law firm’s senior partners and the latest trends in downtown art.  But slowly, the Scotch-fueled discussion ventures into more complicated territory: musings about race and culture, power and privilege and the seething tensions triggered by religious tenets and practices from antiquity to today.  As theoretical discussion morphs into personal revelation and private concerns become public, a celebratory dinner among four smart, engaging and personable friends becomes, perhaps inevitably, something dramatically different. The cast also includes Behzad Dabu as Amir’s nephew, Abe. 

 
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