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The North Pool (#110 of 1)

Lost and Found in Translation: Playwright Rajiv Joseph on Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

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Lost and Found in Translation: Playwright Rajiv Joseph on Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo
Lost and Found in Translation: Playwright Rajiv Joseph on Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which opened March 31 on Broadway, heralds the arrival of compelling new voice in the American theater. And it’s not just because the production has snagged A-list comedian Robin Williams to play the title role, or because the play was shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize. This surrealistic dark comedy, set in the early months of the U.S. occupation of Iraq’s capital city, is a bold and vividly theatrical take on issues and concerns that face Americans in the 21st century. The buzz about the 36-year-old Ohio-born writer has been building for some years now. His first play, Huck and Holden, debuted Off Broadway in 2005. Numerous awards and grants, as well as productions of his plays in theaters across the country, followed. Bengal Tiger, his most powerful play to date, has been given a gripping and imaginative production, directed by Moisés Kaufman, twice in Los Angeles and now in New York at the Richard Rodgers Theater. I spoke with Joseph last month, when the play was still in previews.