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AYAD AKHTAR'S PROVOCATIVE & MOVING DRAMA "THE WHO & THE WHAT" STARTS MARCH 31

PROVOCATIVE AND MOVING DRAMA THE WHO & THE WHAT BY PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR AYAD AKHTAR BEGINS FRIDAY, MARCH 31 AT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY

(BOSTON) – The Huntington Theatre Company will present the provocative and moving drama The Who & the What by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced) and directed by Huntington Associate Producer M. Bevin O’Gara (Milk Like Sugar, Becoming Cuba). Performances begin Friday, March 31 and by popular demand the production has been extended through May 7, 2017 at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. 

“After last season’s hit Disgraced, I am looking forward to having another story by Ayad Akhtar brought to life on our stage,” says Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. “The Who & the What provides a unique, vitally important look into the Muslim American experience through the lens of faith and family.”

In The Who & the What, brilliant novelist Zarina is writing about women and Islam when she meets Eli, a young convert who bridges the gap between her modern life and traditional heritage. When her conservative father discovers her controversial manuscript, they all must confront the beliefs that define them. The Who & the What is a fierce and funny new play about relationships, religion, and the contradictions that make us who we are. The Associated Press describes it as “a vibrant culture-clash drama simmering with humor.” 

“I am so excited to share the loving and thorny tale of Zarina’s family with Boston audiences,” says playwright Ayad Akhtar. “Disgraced at the Huntington was a very gratifying experience for me, and I am so honored this play is a part of the Huntington’s season.”

“Last season’s Disgraced generated intense and thoughtful discussions after each performance, with hundreds of audience members staying behind to share their thoughts with us and with their fellow theatregoers,” says Huntington Managing Director Michael Maso. “We are looking forward to building on those conversations this season with The Who & the What. We are lining up a series of speakers to lead audience members in thought-provoking and stimulating conversations after most performances, about the play, about faith in America, and about Muslim American identity, at a time when those conversations could not be more important.”

The Who & the What is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The cast includes Aila Peck (Yerma at the Huntington’s Summer Workshop and Brahman/I: A One Hijra Stand Up Comedy Show at Company One Theatre) as Zarina, a Harvard graduate and author currently writing a book about women and Islam. Her younger sister Mawish is played by Turna Mete (Soldier X at Ma-Yi Theater Company). Their father Afzal, a Pakistani immigrant and devout Muslim, is played by Ted Sod (Urge for Going at The Public Theater/NYSF). Eager for Zarina to be married, Afzal takes matters into his own hands and sets her up with Eli, a young American Muslim convert and imam played by Joseph Marrella (Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play at Lyric Stage Company).

Ayad Akhtar (Playwright) is the author of Disgraced which won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, was nominated for the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play for its Broadway run, and was produced at the Huntington in its 2015-2016 season. He is a novelist and author of American Dervish, published in over 20 languages worldwide. His plays The Who & the What and The Invisible Hand received Off Broadway runs and are currently being produced around the world and his play Junk will be produced on Broadway this fall. Mr. Akhtar was listed as the most produced playwright for the 2015-2016 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. Mr. Akhtar is currently the resident playwright with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. 

M. Bevin O’Gara (Director) is the Associate Producer at the Huntington Theatre Company, and was director of Kirsten Greenidge’s Milk Like Sugar (Elliot Norton Award nomination for Best Production) and Melinda Lopez’s Becoming Cuba. Other directing credits include appropriate, A Future Perfect, Tribes (Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards for Best Production), and Clybourne Park (SpeakEasy Stage Company), Brahman/i, Chronicles of Kalki; You for Me for You; Love Person; and The Pain and the Itch (Company One Theatre), Phedre (Actors’ Shakespeare Project), Fast Company (Lyric Stage Company), Marjorie Prime (Nora Theatre Company), How Soft the Lining and Translations (Bad Habit Productions), Matt and Ben (Central Square Theater), Two Wives in India and Gary (Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), 2.5 Minute Ride (New Repertory Theatre), Othello and The Crucible (New Rep On Tour), Melancholy Play (Holland Productions), Tattoo Girl, Painting You, and Artifacts (Williamstown Theatre Festival Workshop), and ANTI-KISS (3 Monkeys Theatrical Productions). She has also worked with New Repertory Theatre, the Gaiety Theatre of Dublin, and the Actors Centre of Australia, and is the recipient of the Lois Roach Award for Outstanding Commitment to the Boston Theatre Community from Company One Theatre. She has a BFA from Boston University in theatre studies. mbevinogara.com.

The Huntington’s production of The Who & the What features scenic design by Cristina Todesco (Milk Like Sugar at the Huntington); costume design by Mary Lauve (Can You Forgive Her? at the Huntington); lighting design by Annie Wiegand (Tribes at SpeakEasy Stage Company); sound design by M.L. Dogg (Milk Like Sugar at the Huntington), and original music by Saraswathi Jones. Production stage manager is Carola Morrone LaCoste and stage manager is Jeremiah Mullane.

The Huntington’s 2016-2017 season is sponsored through the generosity of Sheryl and Gerard Cohen, Carol G. Deane, and J. David Wimberly.

ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY
Celebrating its 35th season, the Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Huntington brings together superb local and national talent and produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions. The Huntington runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert our current theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org

PHOTO DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS
To download high-resolution (or smaller) photos of The Who & the What:

  1. Visit huntingtontheatre.org/news/photo-library/2016-2017/the-who-and-the-what/
  2. Click on the thumbnail and let the image load in your browser on the Flickr site.
  3. Click the " . . . " button in the lower right-hand corner of the window and select View All Sizes.
  4. Select the size you wish to download from the choices listed across the top of the image.
  5. Click the "Download the ___ size of this photo..." link at the top. The image will download to your computer. 

PRODUCTION INFORMATION AND CALENDAR
WHEN

March 31 – May 7, 2017
               Select Evenings: Tues. – Thurs. at 7:30pm; Fri. – Sat. at 8pm; select Sun. at 7pm
               Matinees: Select Wed., Sat., and Sun. at 2pm
               Days and times vary; see complete schedule below.

Press Opening: Wednesday, April 5, 7pm. RSVP online.

WHERE
South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston

TICKETS
Single tickets starting at $25 and FlexPasses are on sale:

  • online at huntingtontheatre.org;
  • by phone at 617 266 0800; or
  • in person at the BU Theatre Box Office, 264 Huntington Ave. and the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA Box Office, 527 Tremont St. in Boston’s South End.

 Select discounts apply:

  • $5 off: seniors
  • $10 off: subscribers and BU community (faculty/staff/alumni)
  • $30 “35 Below” tickets for patrons 35 years old and younger (valid ID required)

$20 student and military tickets (valid ID required) 

SPECIAL EVENTS IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE WHO & THE WHAT

POST-SHOW AUDIENCE CONVERSATIONS
After select Fri. – Sun. evening, Wed. matinee, Sat. matinee, and Sun. matinee performances throughout the season
An opportunity for audience members to discuss what they have just seen. Led by members of the Huntington staff.

STUDENT MATINEE
Thursday, April 13 at 10am

For students in grades 9–12. Tickets: $15. Includes pre-show in-school visit, curriculum guide, post-show Actors Forum, and Dramatic Returns card for each student. Call 617 273 1558 for more information.

ACTORS FORUMS
Thursday, April 13 at 10am (student matinee)
Thursday, April 20 after the 7:30pm performance
Wednesday, April 26 after the 2pm performance
Meet participating members of the cast of The Who & the What and ask them your questions at the Actors Forum, following the performance.

COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP RECEPTION
Thursday, April 20 before the 7:30pm performance
A pre-show reception with refreshments for members of the Huntington Community Membership program. Community Membership is an initiative designed to reduce the cost barrier of attending live theatre for those with limited income and to diversify the Huntington’s audience to better reflect the city of Boston. Members can purchase best-available tickets to any performance without restriction for just $20. Membership is free and available through partnerships with agencies and organizations that serve limited-income populations.

35 BELOW WRAP PARTY
Friday, April 21, following the 8pm performance

35 Below post-show parties are for young patrons aged 35 and below, featuring backstage access, free refreshments, and live entertainment. Mingle with members of the cast, creative team, and Huntington staff. Plus, meet other young theatre lovers in Boston!

35 Below tickets are available at all performances to patrons 35 and under for just $30.

HUMANITIES FORUM
Sunday, April 23 after the 2pm performance
Explore the context and significance of The Who & the What with a leading expert following the 2pm performance on April 23. 

MORE EVENTS TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON

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