Parsing Disgraced : An Assault, A Critique, and A Truce

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We attended a Saturday matinee. If I remember correctly, it was a full house. After the performance, my husband Malik, who was the only visibly brown person in an otherwise all-white audience, received suspicious, fearful, and contemptuous looks from various white patrons. The antagonistic and not so subtle nature of their stares caused us to quickly exit the theatre and jettison plans to greet colleagues in the cast.

Needless to say, I was livid. The play had created a climate of racist hostility towards a South Asian male audience member. The intrusive and disdainful stares of the ostensibly “liberal” white racists in attendance that afternoon hadn’t materialized before at ATC, at least not for us. Was this arraigning gaze propelled by what unfolded on stage? It’s hard to conclude otherwise. Were people projecting onto Malik the same racialized fears affirmed by the play’s protagonist, Amir Kapoor (the “apostate” Muslim with the Hindu name)? I’m inclined to think so.

Malik and I love theatre. We see a lot of plays. What happened at Disgraced represents a uniquely horrible violation of an otherwise sacred space for us.

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