'Disgraced' playwright Ayad Akhtar on religion, politics, and other dinner conversations

Ayad Akhtar's "Disgraced" tackles terrorism, Islam and identity politics in the story of a dinner party between friends.
Ayad Akhtar's 'Disgraced' is the most produced play in North America right now — it's also one of the most controversial. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

Ayad Akhtar's Disgraced is one of the most produced plays in North America right now.

Despite the play being written in 2010, and having been mounted countless times since, the conversation that occurs over a dinner between friends, remains timely and relevant. The dinner party talk, however, is not your typical banter. It touches on terrorism, Islam and identity politics.  

"We're inhabiting a world increasingly rife with ethnic and environmental and political stresses that are not going to disappear," Akhtar tells Shad.

Akhtar doesn't shy away from the realities of how we interact with controversial topics in Disgraced, which has sometimes resulted in negative reactions for a variety of reasons — from disagreements with the stage violence to accusations of Islamophobia being enforced. 

"The job of art is not to correct an impression," Akhtar says, "it's to plunge us more deeply into our humanity, into our contradictions."

Disgraced is currently on stage at the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto as part of the Off-Mirvish season.