‘Disgraced’ by Ayad Akhtar – A Devastating Play


‘Disgraced’, a play by Ayad Akhtar  (2012) – 96 pages


‘Disgraced’ has probably had the most stage productions of any play in the last ten years. It is about time that I got to it. In the absence of any live performances these days, I read the play which also works for me. Most of my experiences with Shakespeare have been through reading.

The words and the actions of ‘Disgraced’ are as clear as a bell. There is no mistaking their import. There is no attempt to soften the play’s devastating impact on the audience.

Here are words of the author, Ayad Akhtar, regarding ‘Disgraced’:

I aspired to accomplish with this structure a kind of shattering of the audience, after which they have to find some way to put themselves back together.”

The play is one act, four scenes. All scenes take place in the fashionable New York apartment of married couple Amir and Emily. Amir is an American-born corporate attorney who has renounced his Muslim background and is awaiting his promotion to partner in his law firm. His wife Emily is a white Christian and an artist who is fascinated with Islamic art and tradition. I won’t go into the details of the play since I don’t want to blunt its force on those who have not seen it yet, but let’s just say the play is about the severe trials and tribulations of this well-to-do couple in the United States of today.

The play’s sharp brutal directness is probably responsible for the overwhelming success of ‘Disgraced’. Ayad Akhtar speaks of his play as “something that is so troubling, so multivalent, that the people in the audience cannot easily answer or release the questions that the piece has raised for them.”

Ayad Akhtar, again:

I want the audience to be so fully identified with a protagonist who acts out in an understandable but tragically horrifying way, that no matter what text you put on top of it, it doesn’t change his humanity.”

Despite some spirited criticism from some Muslim viewers of the play, I would still recommend you see or read the play in order to draw your own conclusions.


Grade:   A



2 responses to this post.

  1. I’ve read Junk but not this one. Sounds excellent!

    Liked by 1 person


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: