Monika Jolly Stars in World Premiere of THE WHO & THE WHAT at La Jolla Playhouse, Beg. Tonight
La Jolla Playhouse presents its final production for its 2013/14 season: the world premiere of The Who & The What, by Ayad Akhtar, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright for Disgraced and author of the acclaimed novel American Dervish, directed by Kimberly Senior (Disgraced), running tonight, February 11 - March 9, 2014 (press opening: Wednesday, February 19 at 7:30pm) in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre.
The cast features Monika Jolly (Theatre@Boston Court's 1001) as "Zarina," Meera Rohit Kumbhani (Classic Stage Company's As You Like It) as "Mahwish," Kai Lennox (TV's Justified) as "Eli" and Bernard White (Playhouse's The Seven, Dogeaters) as "Afzal."
The creative team includes Jack Magaw, scenic designer; Elisa Benzoni, costume designer; Jaymi Lee Smith, lighting designer; Jill BC DuBoff, sound designer; Gabriel Greene, dramaturg; and Dana DePaul, stage manager.
Raised in a conservative Muslim family in Atlanta, the outspoken and brilliant Zarina routinely clashes with her traditional father and sister. Zarina's one outlet - her recently-completed book about women and Islam - threatens to tear her family apart for good. With humor and ferocity, Ayad Akhtar's The Who & The What examines the giant chasm between our traditions and our contemporary lives.
Touted as one of Time Magazine's "10 Reasons for Theater Lovers to Leave New York in 2014," The Who & The What had its first developmental reading last year during The Playhouse's inaugural DNA New Work Series. Following the presentation, Playhouse Artistic Director Christopher Ashley programmed the play as part of the 2013/2014 season.
"This daring new play tackles many hot-button issues surrounding religion and family traditions, but with tremendous wit and wisdom," said Ashley. "After its first reading during last year's DNA Series, I immediately wanted to continue developing this provocative new piece from one of the country's premiere playwrights. We welcome the opportunity to work with this superb cast and creative team to bring Ayad's latest work to life."
Tickets for The Who & The What are available online at LaJollaPlayhouse.org or by calling the Patron Services Office at (858) 550-1010.
Named one of the "Theatre Faces to Watch in 2014" by the L.A. Times, Ayad Akhtar (Playwright) won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for his play, Disgraced. The production ran at Lincoln Center Theatre in 2012 and at London's Bush Theater in 2013 and won Chicago's Jeff Equity Award for Best New Play in 2012. Also a novelist and screenwriter, Akhtar is the author of American Dervish, published in 25 languages worldwide and named a 2012 Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, Toronto's Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness and O (Oprah) Magazine. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has received commissions from Lincoln Center and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate oF Brown and Columbia Universities, with degrees in Theater and Film Directing.
Kimberly Senior (Director) is a Chicago-based director, where credits include Want and The North Plan (Steppenwolf); The Letters (Writers' Theatre); The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre); After the Revolution, Madagascar, The Overwhelming and The Busy World Is Hushed (Next); Disgraced (American Theater Company); All My Sons and Dolly West's Kitchen (TimeLine Theatre); among others. She also directed the New York's Lincoln Center production of Disgraced. Senior is an Artistic Associate at Next Theatre, Strawdog Theatre and Chicago Dramatists. She also served as Program Director and as a dramaturg for Steppenwolf's First Look Repertory of New Work. As an educator, she spent ten years as an administrator and Resident Artist with Steppenwolf for Young Adults. In addition, she ran and/or taught programs for Court Theater, Northlight Theater, Redmoon Theater, Victory Gardens, Metropolis, Act One Studios and Acting Studio Chicago. She is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College where was the recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award. She has been nominated for five Joseph Jefferson Awards in Directing.