Steppenwolf Theatre Company is presenting Guards at the Taj, a stunning tale about the search for beauty in desperate circumstances, written by acclaimed playwright Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo). Ensemble member Amy Morton directs this Chicago premiere, featuring the original cast members, Omar Metwally (Humayun) and Arian Moayed (Babur), who were last seen on Steppenwolf’s stage together in Homebody/Kabul. Morton directed the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway world premiere, which won the 2016 Obie Award for Best New American Play.
Guards at the Taj begins previews May 31, 2018 and the production runs through July 22 in the Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N Halsted St. Press performance is Sunday, June 10 at 3pm; opening night is Monday, June 11. Single tickets ($20-$94) are currently on sale through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org.
India 1648. The dawn will reveal for the first time the extraordinary beauty of the Taj Mahal, built as a tribute to the ruler who demanded its construction. But for two hapless imperial guards, the morning light brings with it an unspeakable task that will shake their faith in God, the empire and their lifelong friendship. This boldly funny and deeply moving play examines the true meaning of beauty and the cost of transcendence in a world that confuses the value of both.
“Rajiv’s play is one of such remarkable truth and humor and beauty, that when we first read it in the Artistic Office, we knew, immediately, that we had to have it on our season. It is our incredible good fortune that Amy Morton returns to direct the piece, after the initial success of The Atlantic Theater production. To be able to welcome back to our stage Arian and Omar, recreating their originating performances, feels almost like an embarrassment of riches,” shares artistic producer Jonathan Berry.
Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro shares, “In Rajiv Joseph‘s work, there is always an effortless and enchanting layering of our contemporary world and all of the histories that have come before. There is perhaps no other playwright working today who asks us, so consistently, to understand American life through the lens of not just other times but other cultures as well, all of which weave themselves in and out of the consciousness of his stories and the people who inhabit them.”
Rajiv Joseph’s (Playwright) play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama and also awarded a grant for Outstanding New American Play by the National Endowment for the Arts. His play Guards at the Taj was a 2016 Obie Winner for Best New American Play and 2016 Lucille Lortel Winner for Best Play. His play Archduke, received its world premiere last spring at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles; and his play Describe the Night premiered last fall at The Alley Theatre, followed by an Off-Broadway run at the Atlantic Theater. Other plays include Gruesome Playground Injuries, The Monster at the Door, Animals Out of Paper, The Lake Effect, The North Pool and Mr. Wolf. Joseph has been awarded artistic grants from the Whiting Foundation, United States Artists and the Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. He is a board member of the Lark Play Development Center in New York City, where he develops all his plays. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal and now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Amy Morton (Director) has been a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 1997 and directed several Steppenwolf productions including Clybourne Park, American Buffalo, Dublin Carol and The Pillowman, among others. She directed the world premiere of Guards at the Taj at the Atlantic Theater Company in 2015 and returns with the original cast for the Chicago debut. She has performed in more than 30 Steppenwolf productions, including the recent production of Taylor Mac’s Hir, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (also on Broadway, Tony nomination) and August: Osage County (also at the National Theatre and Broadway, Tony nomination). Morton also performed in Steppenwolf’s 2003 production of Homebody/Kabul which is when she first met Omar Metwally (Humayun) and Arian Moayed. Currently she stars as Trudy Platt in the NBC drama series Chicago P.D.
Omar Metwally (Humayun) last performed at Steppenwolf in Homebody/Kabul. His Broadway credits include Sixteen Wounded (Tony and OCC nominations). Off-Broadway he has performed in Guards at the Taj (Obie Award; Atlantic Theater); As You Like It, The Fever Chart (The Public); Tumacho (Clubbed Thumb); Beast on the Moon (Century Center). Regional credits include American Hero (Williamstown), as well as work with The Long Wharf, ACT, Magic Theatre, Campo Santo and others. He’s appeared on film in Rendition (Chopard Trophy, Cannes Film Festival), Non-Stop, Munich, Miral, Complete Unknown, Breakable You, among others. Television appearances include Vik on The Affair, Mr. Robot, The Slap, Dig, Fringe, The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy, Virtuality, Harry’s Law. Metwally received his MFA from the American Conservatory Theater.
Arian Moayed (Babur) is a Tony nominated actor, an arts educator, an award winning writer/director and an Artistic Director of Waterwell. Notable theater includes: Tony Award-winning The Humans (Drama Desk Award), Guards at the Taj (Obie Award) and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Tony nom., Drama League nom., Theater World Award). With numerous credits in film and television some highlights include working alongside Bill Murray in Rock the Kasbah (dir Barry Levinson), Rosewater with Jon Stewart and a recurring role on Madam Secretary. With Waterwell, a company he co-founded with Tom Ridgely in 2002, Moayed has helped devise numerous original productions including Hamlet (Sheen Center), Blueprint
Specials (Public), GOODBAR (Public Theater) and The|King|Operetta (Barrow Street). Through the Waterwell Drama Program, Moayed administers one of the best public school arts programs in the country as part of the Waterwell Drama Program (WDP). With hundreds of students from all economic backgrounds, WDP partners with the Professional Performing Arts School, offering 6-12 graders in New York City the highest quality theater training in the country absolutely free of charge. As a filmmaker and partner of Waterwell Films, Moayed is currently in post-production for his thriller TV series called “The Accidental Wolf,” starring Kelli O’Hara, Laurie Metcalf, Denis O’Hare, Amy Landecker and many more.
The Guards at the Taj production team includes Tim Mackabee (scenic design), Bobby Frederick Tilley II (costume design), David Weiner (lighting design), Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (sound design and original music) and Matt Hawkins (Fight Choreographer). Additional credits include Briana Jo Fahey (stage manager), Jaclynn Joslin (assistant stage manager), JC Clementz (casting director) and Jonathan Berry (artistic producer).
Single tickets are available through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Previews: $20 – $82 and Regular Run: $20 – $94. Prices subject to change. 20 for $20: Twenty $20 tickets are available on the day of the performance by phone only at 312-335-1650. Limit 2 per person.
Rush Tickets: Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.
Student Discounts: A limited number of $15 student tickets are available online. Limit 2 tickets per student; must present a valid student ID for each ticket; steppenwolf.org/students.
Group Tickets: all groups of 10 or more receive a discounted rate for any performance throughout the season; steppenwolf.org/groups.