I was hesitant to watch Ayad Akhtar's 'Disgraced' staged by Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT), and directed by Nate Silver, who directed the Pulitzer-Prize-winning 90-minute play's Broadway debut. It is not a soothing play and it will ignite conversations that one might not want to hold with too many opposing opinions afterwards over social drinks or supper.
The play is set at a dinner party at home between Pakistani-Muslim-American now avowed apostate New York corporate attorney Amir Kapoor (formerly Amir Abdullah) and his white American artist trophy wife Emily, their guests- Amir's colleague, litigator African-American Jory, and her Jewish art-curator husband Isaac. Cue honest awkward dinner conversation. (Plenty of reviews online here, here, here, here, here and here.)
The Boston Globe wrote in a review in January 2016,
“Disgraced” explores the brewing clashes between ancient religious tenets and the modern world in post-9/11 America. It has become the most produced play at American regional theaters this season, with at least 18 productions staged nationally and some 40 happening around the world. Akhtar is also busy adapting “Disgraced” for HBO.
There're too many divisive elements tearing apart societies. Not just today. History tells us so too. I am grateful for Singapore, and while we're not perfect (i.e the blindness of majority privilege), it is better than what I want to deal with living in say, France post-13 November 2015, and America post-November 8, 2016. I'm uncomfortable with the thorny themes of this play, as much as it reflects reality, and need to be put out there to be discussed. It's definitely not a dinner conversation I'd like to be part of. In fact, it's not a conversation I want to have at all casually with anybody. I'd welcome it in an academic discourse in a lecture hall. So if this is part of a play, then it's the only way I'd sit through a conversation like that in a social setting.