IDENTITY AND HERITAGE COLLIDE.
By Ayad Akhtar
Directed by Sidonie Garrett
In this Pulitzer prize-winning regional premiere the personal is political. Amir Kapoor is a successful Pakistani-American lawyer who is rapidly moving up the corporate ladder while distancing himself from his cultural roots. His wife, Emily, is a white artist whose work explores Islamic imagery. When this couple hosts a dinner party for their colleagues, the veneer of civility gives way to a damaging encounter in this unflinching tale of big-city aspiration, cultural assimilation and the truth hiding just below the deception.
“This Pulitzer prize-winning play is taut, engrossing and powerful; an examination of our post-9/11 western world.” – Steve Dow, The Guardian
“‘Disgraced’ strips away all kinds of layers and veneers. At the personal level, it shows that humans, despite all their sophistication, are animals who root and rut about and who cleave to the herd under threat. At the larger level, it shows that our ideas about freedom, about making ourselves in our own images and dreams, are more ideal than lived.” – Rohan Preston, Star Tribune
“…blistering social drama about the racial prejudices that secretly persist in progressive cultural circles…Akhtar knows how to build a scene and maintain suspense, so there’s a sense of inevitability about the damage that’s done over the course of the evening.” – Marilyn Stasio, Variety
“‘Disgraced’ is a play about the potential tensions between old faiths and the modern world, it also dramatizes the complexity of identity, the interior tug of war between the culture into which people are born and the culture they claim as their own.”- Charles Isherwood, The New York Times
DISGRACED is on Unicorn Theatre’s Jerome Stage located at 3828 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111. The show runs October 18th to November 12th, 2017. Previews are October 18th, 19th, and 20th. Opening Night is October 21st, 2017. Featured Friday pre-show events are scheduled for October 27th and November 3rd. Talk back performances, where patrons are encouraged to stay after the show and discuss the play with the actors and director, are scheduled for October 24th, 27th, 29th, and November 5th.
Performances run Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. For those who are unable to afford a full price ticket, they may “Pay What U Can” at performances on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; because we believe art is for everyone.
Tickets are now on sale. Call 816-531-PLAY (7529) EXT. 10, go online at www.UnicornTheatre.org or buy in person during box office hours located at 3828 Main St., Kansas City, MO 64111. Special discounts are available for groups of 10+, seniors (65+) and students.
About the Director, Cast, and Creative Team:
Cynthia Levin (PRODUCING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR) is in her 39th season with the Unicorn. Over the years she has served as a director, actor, designer or producer for over 300 productions. At the Unicorn, she recently directed Priscilla Queen Of The Desert (co-directed with Missy Koonce), Eclipsed, Hand to God, Heathers: The Musical (again, with Missy), The Oldest Boy, Women Playing Hamlet (world premiere),Bad Jews, Grounded, Venus in Fur, My Name is Asher Lev, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Soul Collector (world premiere), Hungry(world premiere), Red, Two Jews Walk Into A War…, Distracted, Green Whales (world premiere), Miss Witherspoon, My First Time, The Clean House, Mauritius, 9 Parts of Desire, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Bat Boy: The Musical and additionally the world premieres of rightnextto me (both at the Unicorn and Geva Theatre Center, Rochester, NY), How His Bride Came to Abraham, Light:Damage, Mercy Killing, Innocent Thoughts and Jack and Jill. At Coterie Theatre, she has directed Number the Stars, And Then They Came for Me, Frankenstein, Gatherings in Graveyards (I and II), Valley Song and To Kill a Mockingbird. At the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., she directed readings of Occupants, In the Belly of the Whale, The Friendship of Her Thighs, The Last Pair of Earlies, Tigers Be Still and White Devil and Loving Mother for the MFA Playwright’s Workshop. Cynthia is a graduate of Park University which also awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in 2002. She is a founding board member of the National New Play Network, an organization dedicated to the development and production of new works. She has been honored with the Pinnacle Award for Excellence in the Arts and the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award. She shares her home with Zia (the beagle), Dodger (the cat) and the spirit of the big red dog, Sylvia.
Sidonie Garrett (DIRECTOR) is the Executive Artistic Director of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival where she recently directed the 25th anniversary production of Hamlet, She also directed the past three season’s productions, The Winter’s Tale, King Lear and Twelfth Nightall awarded Best Play in Pitch Magazine’s BEST OF KC as well as 15 other Shakespeare plays. Sidonie directed the collaboration project,The Merchant of Venice, presented by the Jewish Community Center and Johnson County Community College, the first HASF indoor production. Previously, at the Unicorn Theatre she directed, How to Use a Knife, The Whale, I’ll Eat You Last, Other Desert Cities, The Motherf*&#%er With the Hat, Time Stands Still, In the Next Room: the vibrator play, Faith Healer, Rising Water, Iron Kisses, Retreat from Moscow, Omnium Gatherum, the world premiere of Thanatos, SubUrbia, The Waiting Room, Desert Holiday, Spinning Into Butter, SantaLand Diaries and co-directed Light/Damage with Cynthia Levin. Last season, Sidonie directed A Streetcar Named Desire for Kansas City Actors Theatre. At The Coterie Theatre she directed The Macbeth Project: In Spite of Thunder, the U.S. premiere of After Juliet, Mr. A’s Amazing Maze Plays, Little House on the Prairie, Little House by the Shores of Silver Lake, Of Mice and Men, Playing for Time and co-directed The Hobbit. Sidonie directed Rose’s Dilemma and Greater Tuna for the American Heartland Theatre, Reckless and Too Clever by Half for UMKC’s Rotating Repertory, and co-directed Tony & Tina’s Wedding (Kansas City and St. Louis) for Fourth Wall Productions. Last year, she directed collaboration performances with the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony, the Art of Love at the Kansas City Museum, a fully staged production of The African Company Presents with the Black Repertory Theatre of Kansas City, a Script-In-Hand reading of The Beard of Avonwith Kansas City Actors Theatre and a Script-in-Hand performance of The Tempest for JCCC’s Performing Arts Series. In addition to her work with the Festival and as a guest director, Sidonie serves on the Board of Directors for the Midwest Dramatists Center. Next up, she will directMuch Ado About Nothing for HASF’s 26th season, June 12 – July 1, 2018 in Southmoreland Park.
Alexander Salamat (AMIR) is thrilled to return to his hometown of Kansas City. He was last seen on the KC stage in Richard III (HASF). Residing in Brooklyn, NY, he’s had the pleasure of working in TV: Person of Interest, Elementary, Madam Secretary and Film: Price for Freedom (w/Paul Sorvino), Dust, and Satori. His voice has been heard worldwide in campaigns for Jack Daniel’s, NASCAR, HBO Boxing, Crayola, and the FIFA World Cup among others. He is a proud Jayhawk and received his MFA from the NYU Graduate Acting Program (2013).
Molly Denninghoff (EMILY) is so happy to be back at the Unicorn! She was previously seen here in The Way We Get By, Heathers, andCock. Select credits: You Can’t Take It With You, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (New Theatre); The Ballad of Lefty & Crabbe (TLR); Carousel(TLR / KC Rep); A Christmas Carol (KC Rep); The Sound of Music (Starlight); A Little Night Music (Spinning Tree); Gypsy (MTH); Seussical, Frindle, James & the Giant Peach (Coterie); Camelot, Boeing Boeing, The Unexpected Guest, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Arrow Rock Lyceum); Quilters (Avalon Theatre – Kevin Kline Award Nomination, St. Louis). Molly has had the pleasure of touring western Canada with the Legends of Rock n Roll and is a proud founding member of the 1940s-style trio, the Star Spangled Betties. Thank you Cynthia, Sid, and the ever-amazing team at the Unicorn.
Matt Rapport (ISAAC) is always delighted to return to the Unicorn. Matt was most recently seen in How to Use a Knife. Other recent Unicorn credits include Mr. Burns, Cock, and Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. In addition to his work with the Unicorn, Matt has appeared at the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Kansas City Actor’s Theatre, the Coterie, New Theatre, KC Rep, Theatre for Young America, and others. Matt is also the Director of Education for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.
Shawna Peña-Downing (JORY) is excited to be making her debut at the Unicorn with Disgraced. Shawna was last seen in Gem of the Ocean (Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre) and Rachel (KC MeltingPot). She loves to spend her time, energy and free spirit being an educator, laughing, eating and giving back. She’d like to thank Sidonie and Cynthia for this wonderful opportunity and her friends, family, and Davis for their love and support.
Michael Thayer (ABE): is thrilled to be working with the Unicorn Theatre again. Local: An Octoroon, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo(Unicorn); Our Town (KC Rep); Freedom Trial of Anthony Burns  (Coterie); Immeasurable Heaven, The Learned Ladies, Freedom Riders, Mere Mortals, Troilus and Cressida (UMKC Theatre). Regional: Children of Hercules (American Thymele Theatre); Arsenic and Old Lace (Wayside Theatre). Education: MFA in Acting, UMKC; BA, Theatre, University of Maine. Michael would like to give a special thanks to his partner Greg for being his rock and for the countless hours spent helping him learn his lines. One more thing: Hug someone today, we need each other!
Tanya Brown (STAGE MANAGER) has been working with the Unicorn for the past eleven seasons and counting. Some of her all-time favorites have been Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, My Name Is Asher Lev, Women Playing Hamlet, Cock, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical.
Emily Swenson (ASSISTANT DIRECTOR/ PROPERTIES DESIGNER) is thrilled to work with this amazing team on such a unique project. Emily is the Production Manager and Resident Designer at Unicorn Theatre, and she is excited to be back assistant directing. Last season at the Unicorn, Emily assistant directed The Way We Get By, projection designed Priscilla Queen of the Desert, lighting designed Application Pending and scenic designed Eclipsed and Hand to God (co-scenic designer). She premiered as a playwright in the 2017 Kansas City Fringe Festival with Walls Suck which was awarded best in venue. Many thanks to her Unicorn family!
Gregory Chafin (TECHNICAL DIRECTOR) is a Kansas City Metro native and is excited to be working on Disgraced as his second show of his second season at the Unicorn. He graduated from UCM as a well-rounded performance major. When he is not at the Unicorn he’s at home or on an adventure with his loving, supportive and patient family (Kerry, Ashton, Kaylee and Tucker).
Nicole Jaja (LIGHTING DESIGNER) is enthused to be designing at the Unicorn again! Previous Unicorn lighting designs: Eclipsed, Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play. Other recent lighting credits: Bastard, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Trigger Happy, Annapurna, Bank Job (The Living Room), Finnian’s Rainbow, Assassins, Shipwrecked (Spinning Tree Theatre). Upcoming: Casa Valentina with Spinning Tree Theatre.
Mary Traylor (COSTUME DESIGNER) first costume designed The Rocky Horror Picture Show for Unicorn Theatre over 20 years ago. Since then she designed A Perfect Ganesh, Expiring Minds, and Breaking the Code. For 23 years she has been the Resident Designer for The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. Her designs for the opera have been produced for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Washington National Opera, Calgary Opera Minnesota Opera, El Paso Opera, Austin Lyric Opera among others.
David Kiehl (SOUND DESIGNER) is excited to be back at the Unicorn where he has worked as sound designer for over 50 productions. Previous Unicorn productions date back to 1997 and include Sylvia, The Laramie Project, Proof and Closer; more recently, they includePriscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical, I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard, How to Use a Knife, Heathers: The Musical, and The Whale. You may have heard his work around town at KCAT (A Streetcar Named Desire), the Living Room (recently: The Ballad of Lefty and Crabbe, Trigger Happy and Shearwater) and over 100 productions at the Coterie (recently: We Shall Not Be Moved, Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude and Elephant and Piggie: We Are In A Play!).
Tristan James (SCENIC DESIGNER) is pursuing his master’s degree in Scenic Design at UMKC and is thrilled to be a part of this production of Disgraced. Some of Tristan’s past design credits include Bye Bye Birdie (Forestburgh Playhouse), Newsies (Forestburgh Playhouse), Rock of Ages (Forestburgh Playhouse), The Way Of The World (UMKC), An Octoroon (Unicorn Theatre), The Nine Who Dared (The Coterie). He thanks the whole production team and casts for making this story such a great one to work on and see come to life.
Alyson Germinder (DRAMATURG) is happy to be back for Season 44 at the Unicorn, where she is also the Literary Manager. Past Unicorn credits include How to Use a Knife, Application Pending, Hand to God, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, and Seminar. Other Kansas City dramaturgy work includes four seasons at Heart of America Shakespeare Festival (Hamlet, Twelfth Night, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale) and Seasons 11 and 12 at Kansas City Actors Theatre. Alyson holds an M.A. in Theatre from UMKC and a B.A. in Theatre Performance from University of Missouri-Columbia.
Erdin Schultz-Bever (PRODUCTION ASSITANT) is thrilled to participate in bringing this play to life. She is a recent graduate of University of Evansville with her degree in theatre performance and had the privilege of contributing to last season’s Eclipsed and The Way We Get By as a Literary Intern. She is a teaching artist with organizations such as the Coterie and KCYA, participated in KC Fringe, and performed in the Fishtank’ s production of Dry Land in the spring. Other favorite experiences include working on Cornerstone Theatre’s production on Ghost Town in Venice, CA and training with SITI Company and Anne Bogart.
Lindsay Adams (DRAMATURGY INTERN) is a nationally produced playwright, dramaturg, director, and teaching artist. Her play, Her Own Devices, received two awards from the Kennedy Center and the 2016 Judith Barlow Prize. Development/Production History: Women’s Project Theatre (NYC), Page-to-Stage Festival (DC), Westport Center for the Arts, Theatre Alliance, Hub Theatre, and One Minute Play Festival, among others. She is an M.F.A. Candidate at Catholic University of America, Midwest Dramatists Resident Playwright, and proud member of the Dramatists Guild. Upcoming projects include a staged reading with Interrobang Theatre (Baltimore) and production of a new ten-minute play in The Insubordinates at Fishtank Theatre.
About the Playwright: Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a novelist and author of American Dervish, published in over 20 languages worldwide. His play Disgraced won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, ran on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre, and was nominated for the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play. His plays The Who & The What and The Invisible Hand received Off-Broadway runs and are currently being produced around the world. Akhtar was listed as the most produced playwright for the 2015/16 Season by American Theatre magazine. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has received fellowships from MacDowell, Djerassi, the Sundance Institute, Ucross, and Yaddo, where he serves as a Board Director. He is also a Board Trustee at PEN/America and New York Theatre Workshop. Akhtar is currently the Resident Playwright with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater.
About Unicorn Theatre
Founded in 1974, Unicorn Theatre enhances the Kansas City community by developing and producing high-quality, thought-provoking plays that have never been seen in the region. We illuminate social issues by shining a light on diversity and inclusive stories which include race, religion and gender identity. Unicorn creates opportunities for the advancement of emerging and established actors, directors, playwrights, designers, technicians and administrative staff. Unicorn Theatre is under the artistic and executive leadership of Producing Artistic Director Cynthia Levin, who joined the company in 1979. From a newly expanded home in the Midtown neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, the Unicorn houses two stages—The Levin Stage (formerly The Main Stage) and The Jerome Stage (added in 2008). After a year-long capital campaign Unicorn Theatre was able to purchase the building outright in 2014. A fully professional not-for-profit theatre, the theatre operates under agreement with Actor’s Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States. The Unicorn is a founding member of the National New Play Network, an alliance of not-for-profit professional theatres that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays for the American theatre; and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre. Financial assistance for this theatre has been provided by The National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; corporate and foundation gifts; and the generous individuals throughout the community we serve.
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Unicorn Theatre / 3828 Main Street / Kansas City, MO 64111