PlayMakers Repertory Company, the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, kicks off its new main-stage season Sept. 16-Oct. 4 with the award-winning comedy-drama “Disgraced” by Ayad Akhtar. PlayMakers will also host additional special events associated with the show beginning Sept. 9.
In the play, an upwardly mobile Pakistani-American lawyer has achieved success while distancing himself from his Muslim heritage. When he and his wife host a dinner party, friendly conversation turns to politics and religion, escalating into something far more dangerous.
“Disgraced” enjoyed lauded Broadway, Off-Broadway and London runs, garnering numerous honors including the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Obie Award for Best Playwriting for Akhtar and a 2015 Tony Award nomination for Best Play. Including it among the Ten Best Plays of 2012, The New York Times said “Disgraced” “bristles with wit and intelligence” and “puts contemporary attitudes toward religion under a microscope.” Variety’s rave review called it “a blistering social drama.”
Performances will take place in the Paul Green Theatre in UNC-Chapel Hill’s department of dramatic art on Country Club Road. Show times will be Tuesdays through Saturdays and Sunday, Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays and Saturday, Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. There are no performances on Saturday, Sept. 26.
The production is directed by Shishir Kurup, director/composer/playwright and ensemble member of Los Angeles’ Cornerstone Theatre Company. His work has been seen from Off-Broadway to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and at theaters across the country. He is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Award, L.A. Weekly Award and Drama-Logue Awards. As an actor, he has had roles on “True Blood,” “Lost,” “Heroes,” “Alias” and “The West Wing,” among other films and TV programs.
In conjunction with “Disgraced,” PlayMakers will host “The Vision Series-Directors in Conversation,” a behind-the-scenes preview with Kurup, Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Paul Green Theatre. The event is free and open to the public. Participants will share coffee and hors d’oeuvres provided by series sponsor Jujube Restaurant, learn about the vision for the show and get a sneak peek at the sets and costumes in progress. Reservations are appreciated. Call PlayMakers’ box office at (919) 962-7529 to RSVP.
Other special events include:
- Sept. 14, 7 p.m.: “In the Wings,” presented by PlayMakers and the Durham County Library. Cast and creative team members discuss the play at the Main Library, 300 N. Roxboro St., downtown Durham;
- Sept 16, 17 and 18, 7:30 p.m.: preview performances;
Sept. 19, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.: “American Muslims and Immigration Identities” in partnership with UNC’s Program in the Humanities and co-sponsored by the General Alumni Association, http://humanities.unc.edu/programs/adventures-in-ideas/immigrant-identities/;
- Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m.: opening night performance;
- Sept. 22: an all-access performance for attendees with special needs, with sign language interpretation and audio description;
- Sept. 23 and 27: free post-show discussions with members of the creative team;
- Sept. 27, 2-6 p.m.: “’Disgraced:’ A Workshop for Educators on Muslim American Identities,” sponsored by the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Oct. 3, 2 p.m.: open captioned performance;
- Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 4, 2 p.m.: free post-show “Mindplay” discussions sponsored by the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society.
Galloway Ridge at Fearrington is co-producing sponsor for “Disgraced.”
Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers has been named one of the “best regional theatre companies in America” by The Drama League. During the 2015-2016 main-stage season, PlayMakers will also present “Seminar” (Oct. 14-Nov. 1); “Peter and the Starcatcher” (Nov. 18-Dec. 2); Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” (Jan. 20-Feb.7); “We Are Proud to Present…” (Feb. 24-March 13); and Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical “Sweeney Todd” (March 30-April 23).