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Disgraced: A Play by Ayad Akhtar
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Disgraced: A Play

by Ayad Akhtar

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
A very intriguing and troubling statement on identity. There is also a rumination on art and representation but it overshadowed by the racial arc. A wealthy attorney of South Asian heritage lives a posh life with his white artist wife in a post September 11 NYC. The machinations of drama ensue. There are digressions on thread counts, the Koran and fennel salad.

I’ve seen a number of plays which tread a similar path. There is an abundance of type in this exercise. That served to mitigate the violence to a degree. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
Maybe even 4.5* ( )
  leslie.98 | Sep 23, 2018 |
What a brilliant play! A play that manages to effectively mix art, politics and religion in a post-9/11 world. Scene Three is absolutely explosive. Amir's (the protagonist) wife is an artist, who paints a portrait of Amir, based on Velázquez's portrait of Juan de Pareja, Valázquez's slave of Moorish descent (part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's permanent collection. The significance of Amir's wife's portrait of Amir comes full circle in this play. I would love to see this play! ( )
  AntonioPaola | Jan 27, 2018 |
Now I want to see it performed. Very powerful treatment of the cultural and religious turmoil that modern Muslims and others continually must navigate. The play is a tragedy with many threads left unexplored, leaving the viewer (reader) with a lot to think about. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
Raw, edgy, controversial, provocative, illuminating, rage, violence, regrets. These are some of the words swimming in my mind as I left the theatre after watching “Disgraced”. The topics are so piercing that it felt imperative to also read this Pulitzer winning play.

Set in modern times, the 2013 “Disgraced” covers a ten month period with five characters in an Upper Eastside NYC apartment. Amir, an apostate Muslim on the verge of becoming a partner in a law firm and Emily, his Caucasian wife, an artist with a passion for Islamic art and culture, are happy and flirty with each other. Amir’s nephew, Abe, enters the scene asking Amir to support his mosque’s Iman in court, who has been arrested for suspicion in funding the Hamas. Though highly reluctant but nudged by Emily, Act II reveals Amir had appeared in court and was quoted by the newspaper as supporting the Iman. Act III is the explosive dinner party attended by Isaac, a Jewish Caucasian colleague of Emily, and his wife, Jory, an African American fellow lawyer of Amir at the same law firm. Conversations on art and food quickly dissolved into hated discussions of religion, government, cultures, racial profiling, terrorism, men vs. women, pride, 9/11, punctured by references to the Quran. Truths reveal themselves in inconvenient ways. Act IV shows the aftermath.

Amir was taught to hate non-Islam as a child, particularly towards Jews. As an adult, he is offended by the teachings of Islam and the up-for-interpretation messages of violence particularly of men towards women. He renounced his faith. He distanced himself from his birth identity, changing his name as well as obfuscating the birthplace of his parents. It’s a fine line between India vs. Pakistan – acceptance vs. rejection. His struggles are clear, and his inner battles spill outwards during the dinner party and afterwards. His frustrations of making-it vs. being stabbed-by-it cumulate into an utter loss of control displaying angst and despair. Can a person really undo his learnings?

Despite the heavy and/or objectionable subjects, viewing the performance and reading the play did not leave me with negative feelings towards any group. Instead, it raised a curiosity about Islam, the Quran (not enough to read it though), and my Muslim friends – the negativity they must face in their daily lives. Amir has risen so far, but he faces inherent racism daily. He described the law firm as having invited him to the party though making it clear the party is not his. The U.S. is not a melting pot; it is a salad bowl with dressing smeared around the pieces. It’s messy; the look of togetherness is sometimes a façade. This is a very brave piece of writing that could have easily raised the ire of many especially given recent events. It gave me empathy even with Amir’s unacceptable actions. It does what a play ought to do, addressing the uncomfortable topics in a tight narrative over the course of 1.5 hours. When writing “Our Town”, Thornton Wilder remarked the theatre being inadequate and evasive, presenting soothing performances. “Disgraced” certainly threw that out the window. Bravo.

Some Quotes:

On Art:
“Emily: The mosaics in Andalusia are bending the picture plane four hundred years before Bonnard. That’s what I mean. That’s what I was saying. The Muslims gave us Aristotle. Without them, we probably wouldn’t even have visual perspective.”

On Self:
“Emily: …The Renaissance is when we turned away from something bigger than ourselves. It put the individual at the center of the universe and made a cult out of the personal ego. That never happened in the Islamic tradition. It’s still more connected to a wider, less personal perspective.”

On Perspective:
“Emily: … We’ve all gotten way too wrapped up in the optics. The way we talk about things. We’ve forgotten to look at things for what they really are.”

On Islam and the Quran:
“Amir: Islam comes from the desert. From a group of tough-minded, tough-living people. Who saw life as something hard and relentless. Something to be suffered…

Amir: …Muslims don’t think about it. They submit. That’s what Islam means, by the way. Submission.
Isaac: I know what it means. Look, the problem isn’t Islam. It’s Islamo-fascism.
Amir: Martin Amis, right?
Isaac: Hitchens, too. They’re not wrong about that…
Amir: You haven’t read the Quran, but you’ve read a couple of sanctimonious British bullies and you think you know something about Islam?

Jory: I had to read some of it in college. All I remember is the anger.
Amir: Thank you. It’s like one very long hate-mail letter to humanity.”

On Being a Muslim in the U.S.:
“Abe: For three hundred years they’ve been taking our land, drawing new borders, replacing our laws, making us want to be like them. Look like them. Marry their women.
They disgraced us.
They disgraced us.
And then they pretend they don’t understand the rage we’ve got?” ( )
1 vote varwenea | Mar 11, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ayad Akhtarprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fuentecilla, EricCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Amanda, P. J. & Paige
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You sure you don't want me to put pants on?
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
"Disgraced was produced at New York's Lincoln Center Theater in 2012 and was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama." Back book cover.

Includes an interview with Ayad Akhtar.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316324469, Paperback)

"Sparkling and combustible" (Bloomberg Businessweek), "DISGRACED rubs all kinds of unexpected raw spots with intelligence and humor" (Newsday). "In dialogue that bristles with wit and intelligence, Akhtar 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.... Everyone has been told that politics and religion are two subjects that should be off-limits at social gatherings. But watching these characters rip into these forbidden topics, there's no arguing that they make for ear-tickling good theater" (New York Times). "Add a liberal flow of alcohol and a couple of major secrets suddenly revealed, and you've got yourself one dangerous dinner party" (Associated Press).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:34 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

New York. Today. Corporate lawyer Amir Kapoor is happy, in love, and about to land the biggest career promotion of his life. But beneath the veneer, success has come at a price. When Amir and his artist wife, Emily, host an intimate dinner party at their Upper East Side apartment, what starts out as a friendly conversation soon escalates into something far more damaging.… (more)

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