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Elmwood’s ‘Disgraced’ Will Make You Squirm

by Omar Kozarsky, Elmwood Playhouse
Disgraced, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play written by Ayad Akhtar, is coming to Nyack this month. With its themes of Islamophobia, freedom of speech, cultural appropriation, and radical profiling, the play is certain to get its audiences thinking.
The focus of this 90-minute play, which opens at Elmwood Playhouse January 18th and runs through February 8th, is a dinner party hosted by a couple living in New York City’s Upper East Side neighborhood. The hosts are Amir, a Pakistani American who has renounced his Muslim faith, and his white artist wife Emily. The dinner guests include Amir’s African American lawyer co-worker, and her Jewish husband. Soon the dinner turns from a friendly gathering to an intense altercation.
Disgraced is sure to upend the notion of tolerance among its audiences. As a result of the feelings and ideas the play may evoke, Elmwood Playhouse will be holding conversations with the audience, or “talkbacks,” after specific performances.
“Work like Disgraced is important because we don’t enter its world, it enters ours,” said A.M. Bhatt, who plays the central character, Amir. “The talkbacks will provide an opportunity for audiences to work through some of the tension that the play intentionally builds.”
The talkbacks will be moderated but the conversations will center on the audience. “I’m sure audiences will gain empathy, insight, and a better understanding of Islam and those who practice it,” added Aaron Sital, the youngest member of the cast, who plays Amir’s nephew, Abe.
For the actors, Disgraced provides an opportunity to flex their acting skills. Megan Lane is excited to the play the role of Emily. “After reading this play when I attended Stella Adler a few years ago, Emily became one of those characters I kept in mind as a complex but enriching role to play,” she said.
A special Talkback discussion with the cast from Disgraced and special guest Dr. Syed Ali will take place with the audience after the performance on Friday January 25th. Additional talkbacks with the cast will be held after the performances on Friday, February 1st and 7th. Elmwood Playhouse is located on 10 Park Street in Nyack, NY. For reservations, information or directions, call the Elmwood Playhouse Box Office at (845) 353-1313, or visit www.elmwoodplayhouse.com.
Omar Kozarsky is a cast memeber at Elmwood Playhouse


Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.


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