n°5 – April 19, Theater

The submerged and the saved. About Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar

Ayad Akhtar, «Disgraced», regia di Martin Kušej, 2017. Teatro Carignano di Torino. Astrid Meloni, Paolo Pierobon. Foto di Andrea Macchia.


“No majority can ever abolish the feeling of the diversity of minorities from one’s conscience. The mental figure of the ghetto survives invincible. The negro can only get out of there if he adopts the visual angle and the mentality of the majority. He must deny himself, and pretend that his experience is a normal experience, that is to say, majoritarian”. These words by Pasolini expose what “integration” ends up being, even at its best. It is the key issue at the center of the worldwide successful theatrical text Disgraced, Pulitzer Prize 2013, written by Ayad Akhtar, an American writer of Pakistani origin. Disgraced was staged in the 2017/2018 theatrical season in Turin and Munich, directed by the award-winning Martin Kušej. Both text and staging try to intercept racism and discrimination of all kinds from the point where they affect us all in the form of anxiety of adaptation/inclusion and power to exclude. If these problems affect us all, certainly not in the sense of the ‘human universal’, a point of view that both Akthar and Kušej avoid carefully. We are all perhaps on the same boat, but who drives it, who runs the engine, whoever is safe and who ends up at sea, are mostly well distinguishable and not interchangeable. The difference is that if you are 'included' there is still some possibility of living a whole life without having to notice it. In the event that you are part of a group temporarily at risk of exclusion, as in this moment the immigrants from poorer countries, like the Muslims mentioned in the text, the meeting or clash with this reality, and therefore a real updated knowledge, is an almost inevitable experience.

This article is available in ITA.


Milena Massalongo, PhD in German Studies, contract professor at the University of Mantova Foundation, research fellow at the University of Rome 3 and the Italian Institute of German Studies, has collaborated as a dramatist in international theater projects Fatzer going beyond the Alps (2010-2012, around Brecht’s fragment-Fatzer, translated by Einaudi in 2007, as part of a collaboration between the Teatro Stabile di Torino and the Volksbühne in Berlin) and recently, in the 2017/2018 season, at the staging of Disgraced, directed by Martin Kušej, a production of the Teatro Stabile di Torino, with the collaboration of the Residenztheater of Monaco.