Pictured: Alexander Salamat as Amir and Molly Denninghoff as Emily. Photo by Cynthia Levin.
In this 3-part series, PerformInk takes you inside Unicorn Theatre’s production of DISGRACED through blog posts written by the people behind the scenes. To read past “Inside” articles click here.
By Alexander Salamat
It’s not often that I get to tell a story with particular personal significance. As the son of an immigrant and an American I felt pulled to the duality of the character of Amir. He’s a homegrown foreigner and feels a need to plant his roots in society as just another member of his community. But his name and the way he looks always makes people curious and inquisitive about his story. Sometimes he’s met with ignorance and sometimes with naivety but his “otherness” is undeniable no matter how hard he tries to blend in.
This is my hometown. Although I’ve lived in NYC for years I feel responsible to tell this story to my peers and friends. It’s been a blessing to explore this story and also have a homecoming of sorts.
I’m half Irish and half Iranian and I was born and raised in Kansas. I’ve felt my identity split and shift over the years as I try to blend in or be noticed. Amir has a similar push and pull of ego and personal understanding. He feels different from those that look like him in Pakistan and rightfully so. He’s found his own way and worked hard to create a new path that isn’t beholden to the social expectations of his personal identity.
Disgraced is a short play. 80-90 minutes with no intermission spread out over 4 scenes. But each scene and interchange is filled with nuance and a lot of information that has to be told in a concise way yet filled with depth. Mining these moments can be exhausting at times but the payoff is worth it.
It’s an identity play. Who am I? What am I doing? How do people see me? Although each of our identities are specific there’s universality to the way this story pursues the sense of self. It’s bold and pulls no punches. You will hate and love each character at different times and probably leave with more questions than answers if we’re doing it right.
DISGRACED runs October 18th – November 12th. For more information visit unicorntheatre.org.
Alexander Salamat (AMIR) is thrilled to return to his hometown of Kansas City. He was last seen on the KC stage in Richard III (HASF). Residing in Brooklyn, NY, he’s had the pleasure of working in TV: “Person of Interest”, “Elementary”, “Madam Secretary” and Film: “Price for Freedom” (w/Paul Sorvino), “Dust”, and “Satori”. His voice has been heard worldwide in campaigns for Jack Daniel’s, NASCAR, HBO Boxing, Crayola, and the FIFA World Cup among others. He is a proud Jayhawk and received his MFA from the NYU Graduate Acting Program (2013).