Director Kimberly Senior ’95 takes Pulitzer Prize-winning drama to Broadway

Director Kimberly Senior '95 with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar.
Director Kimberly Senior '95 with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar.

After a successful run in Chicago, director Kimberly Senior ’95 has taken the award-winning drama “Disgraced” to the bright lights of Broadway.

The latest production officially opened Thursday, Oct. 23, at Lyceum Theater, and the premiere drew considerable buzz. The Associated Press praised Senior’s “tight and insightful production,” and Entertainment Weekly lauded the “admirable restraint in her well-paced scenes.”

The production features a star-studded cast, including Gretchen Mol (“Boardwalk Empire”) and Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother”).

In 2012, “Disgraced” premiered in Chicago to great acclaim, earning writer Ayad Akhtar the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The play is about a successful attorney who is forced to consider why he has hidden his Pakistani and Muslim heritage for so long. In 2013, Senior discussed the challenges of directing the play and her time at Connecticut College.

What is the biggest challenge in directing “Disgraced”?

To remain bold and take the risks that the play demands. And to continue to push Ayad to tell the story that is in him — some of the things he has to say are controversial, unpleasant, or often remain unsaid. By putting these ideas out there, we are promoting conversations within communities and between them.

What do you hope people take away from the play?

That identity isn't something as black and white as we might think. We shift our identity from one circumstance to the next. It becomes dangerous when we act or perform to fulfill stereotypes. I want audiences to see themselves in the play — I see a piece of myself in all five of the characters. I then want the conversation to extend beyond the theater.

How do you use your Connecticut College education as a director?

I majored in theater, and Professor David Jaffe has remained a tremendous inspiration for me as an artist, teacher, parent and person. Connecticut College nurtures the whole person, which has been the greatest gift. Becoming versed not only in theater but also in a variety of subjects has been fantastic training.

How did you get into directing?

I directed my first play, “Cowboy Mouth” by Sam Shepard, at Connecticut College. I loved making that play and definitely wanted to do more — and I was very much encouraged to do so!



October 29, 2014