By Anand Menon and Rainer Mensing
One often grapples with questions of identity, both of oneself and of others. Unfortunately, in a world where conflict is often dictated by ethnic backgrounds, it is almost inevitable that one is seen not as an individual but as being a part of a certain community, in terms of nation, religion, race or class. ‘Disgraced’ (2012) takes up this theme head on by delving into the lives and interactions among five individuals whose different backgrounds expose them to fundamental questions of identity, power and faith, in a Post 9/11 New York.
The play is centered around Amir (Sunil Chacko), an American-Pakistani and rising high-profile lawyer, who relentlessly tries to distance himself from his Islamic roots. His antipoles are his wife Emily (Jaimie Guerra) and his younger nephew Abe/Hussein (Kareem Gerges, an IR-PS student from the Graduate Institute!). Emily is a white American artist on a mission to change the image of Islam through her work. Abe/Hussein is meanwhile facing the struggles of a Muslim immigrant in a world that has seemingly turned against him. The family is joined by Jory (Andrea Ogbonna-James), Amir’s African-American colleague, who hustled her way from the ghettos of New York to high society, and her husband Isaac (John Ward), Emily’s curator, who eats pork and lobster “every chance he gets”.
Without giving away too much, you can be guaranteed that an evening of laughter will quickly turn into a confronting and thought-provoking experience. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning piece by playwright Ayad Akhter, Director Charles Slovenski of the Geneva English Drama Society (GEDS) has created a fantastic production in four scenes without intermission. The piece is an example of excellent amateur theater, starring both experienced and new actors. The volunteer team, the actors and the production team convincingly deliver a critical view on today’s society.
The play can be seen at the Theatre de l’Esperance for three more days (today, 8pm; tomorrow, 8pm; Saturday, 7pm). Tickets for students are 20CHF, and 30CHF for others. It is highly recommended.
Feature Image Credits – Elisabeth Zoe Everson.
Image Credits – Geneva English Drama Society, unless otherwise stated.