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ATC Premieres DISGRACED, 1/27

American Theater Company (ATC) announces the World Premiere of Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar, directed by Kimberly Senior. Disgraced is produced by special arrangement with The Araca Group (Broadway's Urinetown, A View From The Bridge and co-producers of Wicked). The production will run January 27 – February 26, 2012 at American Theater Company, 1909 W Byron, Chicago, IL. Press opening is Monday, January 30, 2012 at 7:00PM.

New York. Today. A Muslim-American lawyer is rapidly moving up the corporate ladder while he distances himself from his cultural roots. At the moment of achieving his life-long ambitions, he falls victim to professional and personal betrayals that manifest in one of the most explosive and controversial scenes ever written for the theater. American Theater Company teams up with the Broadway producers of Urinetown and last season's A View From the Bridge to premiere Ayad Akhtar's examination of a modern Muslim-American struggling to define his identity.

"I cannot wait for Chicago to experience Disgraced. It unearths the unspoken cultural tensions fostered by our country's unfounded fear of the unknown. And perhaps most importantly, it's the first time that post-9/11 Muslim Americans have taken center stage in the theatre," says Artistic Director PJ Paparelli. "I am honored that Ayad and The Araca Group chose ATC to birth this important American play."

"The support and stewardship of PJ Paparelli and The Araca Group have meant so much to this play and to me," adds playwright Ayad Akhtar. "I couldn't be more thrilled for the play to be making its debut at ATC."

Ayad Akhtar's first novel, American Dervish, is being published by Little, Brown and Company in January 2012. The first run of the novel will be published in 21 languages. ATC will host a launch party for American Dervish at the theater on Tuesday, February 7, 2012.

Disgraced features Ensemble Member Usman Ally as Amir, Alana Arenas as Jory, and Behzad Dabu as Abe. Further casting TBA.

The creative team for Disgraced includes Jack Magaw (Set Design), Christine Binder (Lighting Design), Janice Pytel (Costume Design), Nick Heggestad (Properties) and Kevin O'Donnell (Sound Design). The Production Stage Manager is Katie Klemme. David Woolley is Fight Choreographer.

Ayad Akhtar (Playwright) earned a degree in Theater from Brown University and, after graduating, moved to Tuscany to work with world-renowned acting theorist and pioneer, Jerzy Grotowski (Towards a Poor Theater). He has been a New York City resident since the late nineties where he has taught acting on his own and alongside Andre Gregory (My Dinner with Andre, Vanya). An alumnus of the Graduate Film Program at Columbia University, Akhtar earned a degree in directing and won multiple awards for his work. He is the author of numerous screenplays. He was the co-writer and star of The War Within, nominated for an Independent Spirit Award (Best Screenplay), an International Press Academy Satellite Award (Best Picture - Drama) and released internationally. He also co-starred in HBO's Emmy nominated adaptation of Too Big to Fail. Also a playwright, Akhtar's stage play Disgraced is premiering at The American Theater Company in Chicago in January 2012, co-produced by The Araca Group (Urinetown, the Broadway revival of A View from the Bridge, and Pacino's Merchant of Venice). And his stage play The Invisible Hand will be premiering at Repertory Theater of St. Louis in March 2012. In January of 2012, Little, Brown and Company will be releasing his first novel, American Dervish. The book is currently being translated into 21 languages worldwide.

Kimberly Senior (Director) has worked professionally in Chicago in a variety of positions for the past 16 years. Most recently, Kimberly directed Madagascar at Next Theatre, where she is an Artistic Associate and previously directed The Overwhelming and The Busy World is Hushed. At Strawdog, where she is also an Artistic Associate, Kimberly previously directed Uncle Vanya, Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters, Fuddy Meers, and Knives in Hens. In addition, Kimberly recently directed The North Plan for Steppenwolf Theatre, All My Sons for TimeLine Theatre, Thieves Like Us for the House Theatre, Mauritius for TheatreSquared (Fayetteville, AR) and The Pillowman for RedTwist. She is the founder and company member emeritus of Collaboraction Theatre Company, where she directed and/or produced over 30 plays and theatrical experiences, most notably the company's lauded Sketchbook festival for seven years. Kimberly also serves as an Artistic Associate with Chicago Dramatists (Feast, world premiere.) Other directing credits include Dolly West's Kitchen at TimeLine;Young Playwrights Festival at Pegasus Players; Narnia for Emerald City Theatre Company; the world premiere musical Electronic Baby, BobKat Productions; Bold Girls, Seanachai; the midwest premiere of Patty Red Pants, BlackbiRD Productions;and the world premiere of Mouse Cop, Noble Fool Theater. In addition, she has directed for University of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, Adventure Stage Chicago, Estrogen Fest, Maxwell Street Historic Preservation Coalition, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Shakespeare's Motley Crew, Northlight Theatre, RoadWorks Productions, Northwestern University, College of DuPage, Oakton Community College, National Louis University, and WFMT Radio, among others. As an educator, Kimberly spent ten years as both an administrator and Resident Artist with Steppenwolf for Young Adults. In addition, Kimberly either ran programs or taught for Court Theater, Northlight Theater, Redmoon Theater, RoadWorks Productions, Victory Gardens, Metropolis, Act One Studios, and Acting Studio Chicago. Currently she is adjunct faculty at DePaul University where she teaches Theatrical Collaboration, University of Chicago where she teaches Advanced Scene Study and Columbia College where she teaches Chekhov, Dramaturgy and Text Analysis. She is the recipient of Columbia College's 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award. Kimberly has served as Program Director and as a dramaturg for Steppenwolf's First Look Repertory of New Work.

Usman Ally (Amir) was born in Swaziland and spent the first 18 years of his life in Botswana, Kenya, Pakistan and Tanzania. He received his BA in Theatre and Cultural Anthropology from Lewis and Clark College, and an MFA Magna Cum Laude from the University of Florida. As a SLAM Poet, Usman has been a featured poet on several occasions at the historic Green Mill in Chicago. He has also written hip hop theatre productions American Ethnic and Public Enemy (Remy Bumppo) and founded the One Nation Hip Hop Theater Organization. In Chicago, Usman is best known for originating the role of VP in the World Premiere of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, which he reprised Off-Broadway at Second Stage, and then again in Los Angeles at the Geffen Playhouse. Usman can be seen as a recurring character on season 4 of Damages, and on The Chicago Code. Film Credits include "Just Like a Woman" and "Contagion". Other Theater Credits: Celerity Row (American Theater Company), Arabian Nights (Lookingglass, Arena Stage), Around the World in 80 Days (Baltimore Centerstage, Kansas City Rep), The Last Act of Lilka Kadison (Lookingglass), Weapon of Mass IMPACT (Red Orchid), Relatively Close (Victory Gardens), The Four of Us (Theater Wit), Tranquillity Woods (Steppenwolf) and others.

Alana Arenas (Jory) recently appeared in Eclipsed at Northlight Theatre; Etiquette of Vigilance and The Brother/Sister Plays at Steppenwolf; and The Arabian Nights at Lookingglass Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Kansas City Repertory Theater. She joined the Steppenwolf ensemble in 2007 and created the role of Pecola Breedlove for the Steppenwolf for Young Adults production of The Bluest Eye, which also played at the New Victory Theater Off-Broadway. Other theatre credits include The Tempest, The Crucible, Spare Change and The Sparrow Project (Steppenwolf); Black Diamond (Lookingglass); Eyes (ETA); SOST (MPAACT); WVON (Black Ensemble Theater); and Hecuba (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Television and film credits include The Beast and Kabuku Rides. She is originally from Miami where she began her training at the New World School of the Arts. Alana holds a BFA from the Theatre School at DePaul.

Behzad Dabu (Abe) makes his ATC debut with Disgraced. Behzad hails from Syracuse, NY and moved to Chicago in 2005 and has since been performing on various stages all over town, most recently, in TheatreSeven's, We Live Here; and as Romeo/Tybalt in Shattered Globe's site-specific production of Romeo and Juliet. Before that, he could be seen in First Folio's Twelfth Night as Sebastian, The Goodman's Christmas Carol as Dick Wilkins, and in the original cast of The History Boys at TimeLine Theatre (Best Ensemble Jeff Award). In addition to stage work, he can be seen and heard in various commercial and voice-over spots. Behzad attended Columbia College Chicago, where he currently works full-time as an international representative.

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