×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Stagecraft Podcast: Ayad Akhtar Talks ‘Junk,’ Pulitzers and Faith (Listen)

When Ayad Akhtar won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, he thought: “Well, very little good can come of this.”

Akhtar, who won the award for his play “Disgraced,” talks about it on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast. Either he’d believe he deserved the award, the playwright explains, or he wouldn’t — and he didn’t like either option.

He recalls how he navigated out of that dilemma in a discussion centered around “Junk,” his ambitious new play about the 1980s junk-bond crisis now running at Lincoln Center Theater. He also dives into the intellectual underpinnings of the play and how he manages to talk finance without make theatergoers’ eyes glaze over — and also reveals how his knowledge of the stock market had its roots in his father being worried that he was reading too much poetry.

“Junk” is the first play of Akhtar’s not to feature a Muslim character — and the reaction to it, he thinks, is telling. “When I put a Muslim character into a play, people think they’re watching a play about somebody else, not about themselves,” he says. “Whereas now I’m writing a play in which so much of the audience thinks that maybe they’re like that guy too, and so now they’re watching a play about themselves.”

He goes on to explain how faith plays a part in all his writing, and lets slip the factoid that he appeared in the 1994 Louis Malle film “Vanya on 42nd Street,” hovering in the background of a movie that starred Wallace Shawn and Julianne Moore. “I have hair,” he notes with a laugh.

The new episode of Stagecraft is now available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Soundcloud.

More Legit

  • The American Clock review

    London Theater Review: 'The American Clock'

    Time is money. Money is time. Both come unstuck in “The American Clock.” Arthur Miller’s kaleidoscopic account of the Great Depression, part autobiography, part social history, crawls through the decade after the Wall Street crash, dishing up snapshots of daily life. In the Old Vic’s classy revival, director Rachel Chavkin (“Hadestown”) tunes into the play’s [...]

  • Jake Gyllenhaal

    Off Broadway Review: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Sea Wall/A Life'

    Comfy? Okay, let’s talk Death: sudden death, painful death, lingering death, accidental death, and whatever other kinds of death happen to come into the receptive minds of playwrights Simon Stephens (“Sea Wall”) and Nick Payne (“A Life”). The writing in these separate monologues — playing together on a double bill at the Public Theater — [...]

  • Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Musical Test-Run

    With an HBO documentary that places strong allegations of abuse against Michael Jackson premiering in two weeks, the late singer’s estate announced Thursday that it’s canceling a scheduled Chicago test run of a jukebox musical about him. The estate and its producing partner in the musical, Columbia Live Stage, said that they’re setting their sights on going [...]

  • All About Eve review

    West End Review: Gillian Anderson and Lily James in 'All About Eve'

    To adapt a crass old adage: it’s “All About Eve,” not “All About Steve.” Stripping Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s sharp-witted screenplay about a waning theater star of its period trappings, Ivo van Hove’s stage adaptation fine-tunes its feminism for our own sexist age — image-obsessed, anti-aging, the time of Time’s Up. Rather than blaming Lily James’ [...]

  • Adam Shankman

    Listen: Why Adam Shankman Directs Every Movie Like It's a Musical

    Director Adam Shankman’s latest movie, the Taraji P. Henson comedy “What Men Want,” isn’t a musical. But as one of Hollywood’s top director-choreographers of musicals and musical sequences, he approaches even non-musicals with a sense of tempo. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “When I read a script, it processes in my head like a [...]

  • Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: Matthew Bourne's 'Cinderella'

    How much can you change “Cinderella” before it is no longer “Cinderella”? In the case of choreography maestro Matthew Bourne — who, it should be said, first unveiled his spin on the classic folk tale some 22 years ago — the music is most certainly “Cinderella” (Prokofiev’s 1945 score, to be exact), but the plot [...]

  • 'Pinter Seven' Review: Martin Freeman Stars

    West End Review: 'Pinter Seven' Starring Martin Freeman

    “Pinter at the Pinter” has been an education — a crash course in Britain’s greatest post-war playwright. Director-producer Jamie Lloyd’s star-studded, six-month sprint through Harold Pinter’s short plays and sketches has been exquisitely curated and consistently revelatory. Not only has Lloyd tuned audiences into the writer’s technique, his unconventional groupings have exposed a load of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content