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Ayad Akhtar- Releasing Limitations

A week ago I started rehearsals for a project of a series of 10 minute plays all student directed and I was annoyed at myself that I didn’t know all the playwrights of the 3 plays I was in. We started this semester in Dramaturgy class talking about the importance of getting to know and become aware of current playwrights but I was feeling like I really didn’t know that many more.

But then it struck me. First, breathe and let that negative thought of failure pass, and focus on the now. Looking closer, I actually have heard of Theresa Rebeck through our readings and discussions, writer of the 10 minute play “Late Arrival” in which I play “Lila”. I also appreciate the ability to work with her text as opposed to only reading about it. Similarly, I can also learn more about Craig Wright author of “Dead Boy” and Llyod Suh of “The Next Supper”. I didn’t know these playwrights before but now I do. And more will appear throughout my artistic journey– all I need to do is keep my eyes and ears open to them. Looking at it in this way, a sense of pressure to know it all is released. It’s also nice for these discoveries to appear naturally and wholesomely.

So, when I was searching around online for what to write about this week, an article about a Muslim American playwright that I didn’t know caught my eye. I’ve realized early on that if I am inspired to read more than just the original article about a story or happening I should probably write something about the subject because the synthesizing of multiple information sources is what makes the blog post really about my perspective; it’s what makes it mine.

Ayad Akhtar won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play “Disgraced” which is now open on Broadway. Akhtar reminds a lot of myself. He was raised in the U.S. but with strong cultural ties to another country. He also went to an American university, Brown University to be specific, and studied theatre– which I always find super intriguing as I was very choosing Brown in my decision of where I would have my undergraduate education. And he then studied with Grotowski in Italy, whose work has influenced

me at BU with physical acting but also because it’s what I would have done at NYU in the experimental theater program (also another path I considered when choosing colleges).

The most interesting thing I found about Akhtar was his experience in film as well as theater. I’m always noting the people who are able to cross into both fields because I see them as quite similar and because of my experience with BU’s lack of integration I find it striking to hear about people who do both professionally and where both are still considered “art” as opposed to “entertainment”.

Akhtar is also a novelist. He writes, creates, acts for a larger entity not just for the sake of the theatre. I think that’s something we should be taught more– you are an artist first. It’s freeing and makes you more open to try something new. Wherever my path takes me I want to remember that. In this way signing on to a project becomes about the project and this next artistic endeavor. The form of producing art is malleable. There can be dramaturgy for all kinds of projects.


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