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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Artist Ayad Akhtar

Series of events, including film screenings and a reading, will be open to the general public

March 13, 2014 (Boston, MA)—Emerson College welcomes acclaimed actor, author, screenwriter, and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Ayad Akhtar on campus as senior artist-in-residence. Throughout the month, Akhtar will lead a group of students from the College’s Performing Arts; Writing, Literature and Publishing; and Visual and Media Arts departments in a seven–session writing seminar developed by the School of the Arts and ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage, with contribution from HowlRound: a Center for the Theater Commons.

As part of Akhtar’s residency at Emerson, there will be a series of events open to the general public including a reading of his stage play Disgraced, for which he won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The reading is free and takes place Saturday, March 29 at 7:00 pm in the Semel Theater, located at 10 Boylston Place, 3rd floor, Boston. A description of the reading and a complete schedule of events are listed below.

“We’re very excited to host Ayad Akhtar and to provide School of the Arts students with the opportunity to study with him during his residency,” said School of the Arts Interim Dean Rob Sabal. “His visit also offers the public a chance to see his work first-hand—extending the residency program and art/theater experience into the community.”

Born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Akhtar is the author of American Dervish, published in 25 languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. His Pulitzer-winning play Disgraced played at New York’s Lincoln Center Theater in 2012 and will premiere at the Bush Theater in London in May 2013.

The Artist-in-Residence Program is made possible through the generous support of the Fresh Sound Foundation.


A Conversation with Ayad Akhtar: Available to watch via livestream at
Friday, March 14, 7:00 pm; Semel Theater
A forum for students, faculty, and staff, moderated by Polly Carl, director/editor of HowlRound

Screening of The War Within: Open to the public
Friday, March 21, 7:00 pm; Bright Family Screening Room, located in Emerson/Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston.
The film tells the story of Sayeed, a man born in Pakistan who has immigrated to New York City, where he lives with his family. When his childhood friend Hassan (Ayad Akhtar) arrives from Pakistan, a warm reunion gives way to an unexpected tension between the family’s cultural roots and current American lifestyle. Tickets on sale here.

Screening of Too Big to Fail: Open to the public
Saturday, March 22, 1:00 pm; Bright Family Screening Room, located in Emerson/Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street, Boston.
This award–winning HBO film exposes the behind-the-scenes drama from the financial crisis of 2008. Based on the bestselling book by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Too Big to Fail offers an intimate look at the powerful men and women who decided the fate of the world’s economy in a matter of a few weeks. Centering on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the film goes behind closed doors to examine the symbiotic relationship between Wall Street and Washington. An all-star cast includes Paul Giamatti, Edward Asner, Ayad Akhtar, Cynthia Nixon, Topher Grace, James Woods, Erin Dilly, and William Hurt. Tickets on sale here.

Reading of Stage Play Disgraced: Open to the public
Saturday, March 29, 7:00 pm; Semel Theater, located at 10 Boylston Place, 3rd floor, Boston.
Amir Kapoor is a successful Pakistani-American lawyer who is rapidly moving up the corporate ladder while distancing himself from his cultural roots. When Amir and his wife Emily, a white artist influenced by Islamic imagery, host a dinner party, what starts out as a friendly conversation escalates into something far more damaging. Free admission; Reservations required at

About Emerson College

Located in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has 3,660 undergraduates and 829 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 60 student organizations and performance groups, 14 NCAA teams, student publications, honor societies, television stations including the Emerson Channel, and WERS-FM, the nation’s highest rated student-run radio station. Emerson is internationally known for its study and internship programs in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic. On March 8, 2014, the College celebrated the grand opening of its permanent LA-based facility, located on Sunset Boulevard. For more information, visit

About ArtsEmerson

ArtsEmerson was established by Emerson College to program the beautifully restored 590–seat Paramount Center Mainstage; the versatile, intimate Jackie Liebergott Black Box Theatre (“The Jackie”), which can seat up to 150 people; the state‐of‐the‐art 170–seat Bright Family Screening Room (all located within Emerson’s Paramount Center, a cornerstone in the revitalization of downtown Boston); and the beloved, historic 1,186–seat Cutler Majestic Theatre in the heart of the Theatre District, fully restored by Emerson in 2003. Under the leadership of Rob Orchard, ArtsEmerson gives Boston audiences a new level of cultural choice, bringing live professional American and international stage work to its four distinct venues as well as films and music. For more information, visit

About HowlRound

HowlRound designs and develops online knowledge platforms and in-person gatherings that promote access, participation, organizational collaboration, field-wide research, and new teaching practices to illuminate the breadth, diversity, and impact of a commons-based approach to theater practice.

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