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GUARDS AT THE TAJ By Rajiv Joseph Opens at Steppenwolf, 6/10


GUARDS AT THE TAJ By Rajiv Joseph Opens at Steppenwolf, 6/10 A boldly funny and deeply moving play about the search for beauty in desperate circumstances

India 1648. The dawn will reveal for the first time the extraordinary beauty of the Taj Mahal, built as a tribute to the ruler who demanded its construction. But for two hapless imperial guards, the morning light brings with it an unspeakable task that will shake their faith in God, the empire and their lifelong friendship. This boldly funny and deeply moving play examines the true meaning of beauty and the cost of transcendence in a world that confuses the value of both.

The Steppenwolf production features the original cast members, Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed, whom Amy Morton directed in the Off-Broadway world premiere, which won the 2016 Obie Award for Best New American Play.

Rajiv Joseph's (Playwright) play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. His play Guards at the Taj was a 2016 Obie Winner for Best New American Play and 2016 Lucille Lortel Winner for Best Play. His play Archduke, received its World Premiere last spring at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles; and his play Describe the Night premiered last fall at Alley Theatre, followed by an Off-Broadway run at the Atlantic Theater. Other plays include Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Monster at the Door, Animals Out of Paper, The Lake Effect, The North Pool, Guards at The Taj, and Mr. Wolf. Rajiv has been awarded artistic grants from the Whiting Foundation, United States Artists and the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. He is a board member of the Lark Play Development Center in New York City, where he develops all his plays. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Amy Morton (Director) has been a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 1997 and directed several Steppenwolf productions including Clybourne Park, American Buffalo, Dublin Carol, The Pillowman, among others. She directed the world premiere of Guards at the Taj at the Atlantic Theater Company in 2015 and returns with the original cast for the Chicago debut. She has performed in more than 30 Steppenwolf productions, including the recent production of Taylor Mac's Hir, Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (also on Broadway, Tony nomination) and August: Osage County(also at the National Theatre and Broadway, Tony nomination). Currently she stars as Trudy Platt in the NBC drama series Chicago P.D.

Omar Metwally (Humayun) last performaed at Steppenwolf in Homebody/Kabul. Broadway credits include Sixteen Wounded (Tony and OCC nominations). Off-Broadway: Guards at the Taj (Obie Award; Atlantic Theater); As You Like It, The Fever Chart (The Public); Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb); Beast on the Moon (Century Center). Regional: American Hero (Williamstown), as well as work with The Long Wharf, ACT, Magic Theatre, Campo Santo and others. Film: Rendition (Chopard Trophy, Cannes Film Festival), Non-Stop, Munich, Miral, Complete Unknown, Breakable You, among others. TV: Vik on The Affair, Mr. Robot, The Slap, Dig, Fringe, The Good Wife, Grey's Anatomy, Virtuality, Harry's Law. Education: MFA from the American Conservatory Theater.

Arian Moayed (Babur) is a Tony nominated actor, an arts educator, an award winning writer/director, and an Artistic Director of Waterwell. Notable theater includes: Tony Award-winning The Humans (Drama Desk Award), Guards at the Taj (Obie), and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Tony nom., Drama League nom., Theater World Award). With numerous credits in film and television some highlights include working alongside Bill Murray in Rock the Kasbah (dir Barry Levinson), Rosewater with Jon Stewart, and a recurring role on Madam Secretary. With Waterwell, a company he co-founded with Tom Ridgely in 2002, Mr. Moayed has helped devise numerous original productions including Hamlet (Sheen Center), Blueprint Specials (Public), GOODBAR (Public Theater) and The|King|Operetta (Barrow Street). Through the Waterwell Drama Program, Mr. Moayed administers one of the best public school arts programs in the country as part of the Waterwell Drama Program. With hundreds of students from all economic backgrounds, WDP partners with the Professional Performing Arts School, offering 6-12th graders in New York City the highest quality theater training in the country absolutely free of charge. As a filmmaker and partner of Waterwell Films, Mr. Moayed is currently in post-production for his thriller TV series called The Accidental Wolf, starring Kelli O'Hara, Laurie Metcalf, Denis O'Hare, Amy Landecker and many more.

The Guards at the Taj production team includes Tim Mackabee (scenic design), Bobby Tilley (costume design), David Weiner (lighting design), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound design and original music) and Matt Hawkins (Fight Choreographer).

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