THE WHO & THE WHAT
By Ayad Akhtar, Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
May 25 – June 19, 2016
Brilliant Pakistani-American writer Zarina is focused on finishing her novel about women and Islam when she meets Eli, a young convert who bridges the gulf between her modern life and her traditional heritage. But when her conservative father and sister discover her controversial manuscript, they are all forced to confront the beliefs that define them. From Ayad Akhtar, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of Disgraced, comes a thrillingly fierce and funny new play about identity, religion and the contradictions that make us who we are.
Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the author of American Dervish, published in over twenty languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His stage play Disgraced played at New York’s LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in 2012, and won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His latest play, The Who & The What, premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in February 2014, and will be opening in New York at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in June 2014. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has been the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center Theater and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities with degrees in Theater and Film Directing.
Eleanor Holdridge Off-Broadway productions include Steve & Idi, (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre), Cycling Past The Matterhorn (Clurman Theatre), The Imaginary Invalid, and Mary Stuart (Pearl Theatre Company). Regional credits include I and You (Geva Theatre);Gee’s Bend (Arden Theatre); Hamlet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Lettice And Lovage, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Taming Of The Shrew (Shakespeare & Company). The Crucible (Perseverance Theatre),Educating Rita, Noises Off and Art (Triad Stage), Julius Caesar and Macbeth (Milwaukee Shakespeare), Two Gentlemen Of Verona (Alabama Shakespeare), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare St. Louis), Henry V (Shakespeare on the Sound), Betrayal (Portland Stage), and Lion In Winter (Northern Stage). Her DC area productions include I and You (Olney Theatre), Zorro, which she co-wrote (Constellation Theatre), Double Indemnity (Roundhouse Theatre),The Gaming Table (Folger), God of Carnage and Pygmalion (Everyman Theatre); Something You Did and Body Awareness (Theatre J); and After the Revolution and Much Ado About Nothing (Taffety Punk). Eleanor has been Founding Artistic Director for the Red Heel Theatre Company, Resident Assistant Director at the Shakespeare Theatre, and Resident Director at New Dramatists. She has directed and taught students at the Yale School of Drama, NYU’s graduate program, and the Juilliard School, among others.
Matthew M. Nielson