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Pulitzer-winning show on identity crisis takes to stage in Beijing

By Zhan Qianhui | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-04-11 10:31

If you are interested in multi-cultural conflicts and self-identity issues of immigrants in United States, Disgraced is a show you shouldn't miss. And you don't need to take a long flight to watch it at the other side of the Pacific, because the director and cast have come to Beijing to give Chinese theatre-goers a real treat.

Written by novelist and screenwriter Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play tells the story of Amir Kapoor, a Pakistani-American lawyer who struggles with his Muslim background while trying to fit into the society. He and his wife, a Caucasian artist, invite his African American colleague and her Jewish husband over for a dinner party.

A heated discussion erupts on topics covering a wide range of issues that not only touch on the American society they are living in but also extend to global affairs – Islam, Israel and Iran.

The realist drama ends as a typical philosophically unanswered tragedy. Amir crumbles in his failed career and marriage and rethinks his fantasy about American dream.

The play raises identity crisis issues that have baffled immigrants such as Kapoor, especially at a time when American society has never been so divided.

The one-hour show staged at the US embassy in Beijing on Sunday, a shortened version of the original 90-minute play, captures the audience with witty, sharp dialogue and a powerful cast performance. A following panel discussion spotlights the causes of the hero's tragic fate and identity dilemma faced by Muslims not only in the US but also in other parts world.

Winning the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and being nominated for the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play, Disgraced became an instant hit when it premiered in Chicago in 2012. It also opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theater on September 27, 2014.

"Everyone has been told that politics and religion are two subjects that should be off limits at social gatherings. But watching Mr Akhtar's characters rip into these forbidden topics, there's no arguing that they make for ear-tickling good theater," Charles Isherwood of the New York Times said of the play.

Zhao Siyuan contributed to the story

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