The Midwest Premiere
THE WHO & THE WHAT
by Ayad Akhtar | directed by Ron OJ Parson
June 12 – July 12, 2015
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 gap between her modern life and her traditional heritage. When her conservative father and sister discover the manuscript, it threatens to divide their tight-knit family. With humor and ferocity, 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar and director Ron OJ Parson examine the giant chasm between our traditions and our contemporary lives.
Want to learn more about the world of The Who & The What? Check out our guide:
THE WHO & THE WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
“GUTSY & VERY ADMIRABLE. NOT A SCRIPT TO MISS.”
–The Chicago Tribune, Chris Jones
“WONDERFUL PRODUCTION. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.”
-WBEZ, Tony Sarabia
“[AYAD AKHTAR] IS EXCEPTIONALLY GIFTED AT CONJURING SMART, FUNNY CHARACTERS.”
–Sun-Times, Hedy Weiss
Listen to Tony Sarabia interview The Who & The What playwright Ayad Akhtar and director Ron OJ Parson on WBEZ’s The Morning Shift
“Playwright Ayad Akhtar is Not Letting Up”
Read the full interview between Ayad Akhtar and Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune
The Who & The What is named one of the “Chicago Theater Shows To See This Summer” by TimeOut Chicago
Chicago Tribune lists The Who & The What in their “Summer Theater Guide: 40 essential shows for the 2015 season”
“A fiery and probing new play, crackling with ideas.”
-New York Times
Public Programs is an event series designed to enhance your experience by exploring the themes and issues within Victory Gardens’ Productions. Connecting our theater to the world beyond the stage and rehearsal room, Public Programs events bridge ideas, provoke dialogue, and deepen the relationship between our audiences and our productions.
After every performance of THE WHO & THE WHAT (unless otherwise noted)
Join us for one of our intimate post show conversations. Led by members from the Victory Gardens community—artistic affiliates, subscribers, Artistic staff, Teen Arts Council members, and community partners— reflect on what you’ve seen and share your response.
Past Public Programs:
COLLEGE NIGHT: SWIPE RIGHT!
Pre-Show Performance | Special Afterwords | Saturday, June 13th | 6:30p.m.
From Tinder to Grindr, technology makes it easier than ever to form unlikely relationships. But as Zarina discovers in The Who & the What- unlikely relationships can get complicated. What happens when Cupid and the internet collide? Hear Chicago collegiates speak out in a dynamic pre-show performance, then stick around for a post-show conversation addressing love and technology in the new millennium.
THE EYES HAVE IT
Town Hall | Sunday, June 21st
Hijab. Niqab. Burqa. These headscarves are symbols of religion, modesty, and womanhood in Muslim culture, but they are often misunderstood in Western society. In a secular world, how are Muslim women challenged and empowered to wear the veil? Join us after the show for this timely Town Hall discussion unveiling what it means to be a Muslim woman in America.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT OUT: TREMBLING BEFORE GOD
Pre-Show Reception at Victory Gardens | Special Afterwords | Wednesday, June 24th | 6:30p.m.
Most world religions have sought to address the moral issues that arise from sexuality - and some of it isn’t very welcoming. For those with a strong religious upbringing, is faith ever compromised for a lifestyle? Come early for pre-show refreshments from Fiesta Mexicana in the Victory Gardens’ lobby, then join in this special Afterwords discussion on religious and sexual identity.
Pre-Show Reception at Victory Gardens | Special Afterwords | Thursday, June 25th | 6:30p.m.
Latino culture is often influenced by tradition. In this sometimes-insular community, interracial dating and breaking bloodlines are frequently sources of intergenerational conflict. With so much pressure to honor heritage, how do new ways affect old views? Come early for pre-show refreshments from Fiesta Mexicana, then join Amor Montes de Oca of Arte y Vida for a special Afterwords conversation on challenging customs and honoring heritage.
REMEMBER THE LADIES
Special Afterwords | Saturday, June 27th
Playwright Calamity West once said, “Why do you call me a female playwright? You wouldn’t call me a female heart surgeon.” In a world where only 13% of published writers are women, do these writers have an obligation to tell “women’s stories?” In this crucial Afterwords conversation, join a panel of local writers as they expose the trials and triumphs of their craft in conversation with Ayad Akhtar’s The Who & the What.
PreShow Spoken Word | Friday, June 26th | Wednesday, July 8th | Thursday, July 9th
Thought-provoking art tends to exists at the crossroads between the old and the new. Join some of Chicago’s dynamic spoken word poets as they share their experiences with old traditions, new perspectives, and fresh beats. Hear them before select performances of Ayad Akhtar’s The Who & The What.
THREE FAITHS, ONE GOD
Special Afterwords | Thursday, July 2nd
They may share a belief in Abrahamic ancestry and worship one God, but Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have a long history of conflict. With ever-present tensions between these communities, how can they come together to create a future of acceptance and understanding? Join David Chack and others for this inclusive post-show conversation shedding light on the world’s most famous faiths.
MARRIAGE OF TWO MINDS
Special Afterwords | Tuesday, July 7th
You’ve seen the rom-coms: interfaith marriage can get messy. But where movies end in happily-ever-after, real life couples grapple with difficult questions. When facing disapproval or even ostracization from their families, is love ever enough? Hear couples and counselors navigate questions of conversion and community in this special Afterwords discussion.
A PLACE FOR US
Special Afterwords | Wednesday, July 8th
Pakistanis are the second-fastest growing immigrant group in the United States. Some come seeking educational opportunities while others strive towards economic prosperity. But when expectations of “the American dream” clash with discrimination and violence, how do Pakistani immigrants carve a place for themselves? Join us after the show for this intimate Afterwords discussion on community and opportunity.
Check out these images from First Rehearsal!
Rom Barkhordar (Afzal) and Minita Gandhi (Mahwish)