As two couples exchange observations about faith and politics in the modern world, the intellectual thickets they find themselves in become increasingly tangled. The language grows more testy, tempers begin to flare, and you have the unsettling sense that someone is going to lose his or her balance and take a hard fall. The players are a quartet of accomplished New Yorkers of differing races, creeds and, yes, colors, although they have all arrived at the same high plateau of worldly achievement and can agree on the important things, like the tastiness of the fennel and anchovy salad and the banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery. What they cannot agree on — and what will ultimately tear apart at least one of the relationships in the play — is who they really are and what they stand for, once the veneer of civilized achievement has been scraped away to reveal more atavistic urges. In dialogue that bristles with wit and intelligence, Mr. Akhtar , a novelist and screenwriter, puts contemporary attitudes toward religion under a microscope, revealing how tenuous self-image can be for people born into one way of being who have embraced another.
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Shelves: plays , , play Ayad Akhtar, author of the successful novel American Dervish still on my TBR pile , is a Pakistani-American novelist and playwright whose play Disgraced has been a hit on the stage.
That Ayad Akhtar, author of the successful novel American Dervish still on my TBR pile , is a Pakistani-American novelist and playwright whose play Disgraced has been a hit on the stage. That said, it is still a memorable and interesting play to read. Disgraced is the story of a successful New York couple, Amir and Emily.
Amir, a lawyer, is of South Asian origins while his wife, Emily, is a white American. This miscegenation creates instant tension for the audience in the context of place and time, not only because of our cultural understandings around mixed-race couples in post America, but because Emily, an artist, is sketching Amir after being inspired by an old painting of a slave.
Her white privilege - as well as her class and apparent wealth - shelter her, and cause her to miss the simmering tension in her husband, his prickly argumentativeness. Religion is, as you might expect, a key element in Disgraced.
Amir was raised Muslim but is now an atheist with little patience for any religion, or religious excuses. Still, he lets his nephew and his wife get him involved in the case of an imam being accused of funding terrorism.
As a lawyer, he works for a profitable law firm and feels confident that he will make partner, while Emily is given a big break with a solo exhibition at the Whitney, a gallery curated by Isaac whose wife, Jory, is a lawyer at the same firm as Amir. Jory is African-American while Isaac is white; there is clear sexual tension between Emily and Isaac, two white people in mixed-race marriages.
The play builds up to a dinner scene between the two couples, where things get heated. The climax of the play, though, is both shocking in its swift and hideous violence and also inevitable. It is also the moment when you lose respect for the characters and start to feel like we are instruments of our own doom because we are incapable of escaping or surmounting cultural differences, expectations and prejudices.
For all Amir is intelligent, highly educated, self-reflective and, in some small ways, a victim, he is also just as human - just as fallible and flawed - as anyone else. Ultimately, it is a play about people who disappoint, in a culture or society that disappoints even more. There are so many ways human beings can stuff up, which Disgraced explores, as well as what we can lose of ourselves and each other in doing so, and what externalities we can be a slave to. Read in October One of the original actors was on the Speak Up!
And, "For the black man there is only one destiny. And it is white. It is regretable these were removed, because this sets some of the context for this intense play, which is the most produced plays of and will be for as well. Disgraced casts characters counterpuntal into roles they are not usually perceived in, on purpose. Amir no longer identifies as Muslim, he is successful at a law firm and expecting to be made into a partner. He is married to a caucasian artist, Emily, who uses Islamic geometrics in her art.
The other couple is a Jewish husband, Isaac, a curator and high up official at the Guggenheim, and his wife Jory, an African American lawyer at the same law firm as Amir. Emily and Abe are insistent that he goes to a hearing, which he does against his will, and he was right, it was not be good for his career. The dinner party is intense as it is revealed that Rory has been promoted and not Amir, and Issac and Emily had a sexual encounter on a business trip.
Tensions run high and there is a violent scene. The theater is having discussions after every show and it is the kind of play that is disturbing and good to air what people are experiencing. Many issues are raised that are pertinent to our times. I hope many people will see this play and take time to listen to people who come from Muslin cultures.
Our usual sterotypes need to be broken and put together in new ways and I think this play was writen with this intention, especially given the deleted epigraphs. Act III is an absolute punch to the gut, even in the reading of it.
Who’s Who in Disgraced
Share via Email Tempestuous Ayad Akhtar , the annoyingly talented actor, screenwriter, novelist and playwright, whose debut play Disgraced has just won the Pulitzer prize for drama , is one of those people. Disgraced, which enjoyed acclaimed runs in Chicago and New York, opens at the Bush in west London next week. We meet in the theatre cafe. He has been sitting in on rehearsals, but only intermittently.
The play asks challenging questions about the nature and purpose of faith, about relationships between white and non-white races in contemporary America, and about the process and responsibilities of creating art. The play begins with Amir, a busy thirty-something lawyer in a prestigious New York firm, taking work-related cell-phone calls while being sketched by his Caucasian artist wife Emily. Inspired by a racism-defined encounter with a waiter the night before, Emily sees visual and thematic parallels between Amir and the subject of a centuries-old painting by Spanish artist Diego Velazquez. Abe asks Amir to support the case of an Imam Islamic religious leader who has been imprisoned without cause. At first Amir refuses, but Emily convinces him he should do so. Later, when a picture appears in a local newspaper of Amir with the Imam, he worries about how he Amir will now be perceived at his conservative law firm. Meanwhile, the similarly ambitious Emily is working towards getting her artwork shown at a prestigious gallery, with the help of Jewish curator Isaac who, one evening some months after the sketching scene takes place, comes to have dinner with Amir and Emily, accompanied by his African-American wife, Jory.
Disgraced Summary & Study Guide
Beware Dinner Talk on Identity and Islam