Peace Mountain Interviews the Cast of "Disgraced" – Emily Joyce and David Dubov

We asked each cast member two questions relating to the roles they play in Disgracedand about returning to the live stage. In this issue, we present responses from Emily Joyce, who plays the role of Emily, and David Dubov, who plays the role of Isaac.


PMTC: During the pandemic you have performed in a variety of virtual productions and have produced your own virtual theatre company. What have you missed most about performing live on stage? EJ: I missed the energy exchange in live performance. Not just getting a laugh on a joke, but being able to read what's actually resonating for the audience that night and adjusting my work slightly to find a way into that energy. My job as an artist is to reflect a character's story into my own and tell that story to others. Feeling and hearing the audience experiencing that story is something that just can't be translated in online performance. PMTC: As the play opens, Emily is sketching a portrait of Amir modeled after the Velasquez painting of a Moorish slave. What do you see as Emily’s rationale in choosing this portrayal? EJ: Understanding Emily's rationale overall has been a journey. I've found that her life-long objective is to be “interesting”—to be more than a woman, a painter, a wife; she needs to be special. Amir, just by existing and being her husband, makes her feel special because he is not white and raised Muslim, which in itself (in 2011/12) is controversial, different, and special. I think she chooses this portrait of a slave in rich clothes because, on the surface, she thinks it's empowerment for Amir; something that looks society in the eye and says “I am here”. Deep down, however, she wants to control and use him to make her stand out. This portrait is a way of putting Amir in the place of “outsider”, “different”, “lesser-than”, and keeping him there.

PMTC: Why is Disgraced an important play for people to see?


DD: In this day and age, the tendency is for people to talk past each other, to talk over each other with little listening or understanding going on by either side. While the playwright, Ayad Akhtar, has deliberately made this aspect of modern life a part of the play, he also explores the consequences of how that manifests itself —in broken relationships, issues of self-worth, public and private shame, and violence on large and even small scales. Audiences who see this work will hopefully take away the message that we all must be open to points of view and ideologies that may be challenging to think or talk about, but ultimately will fester and sicken all of us if we don't confront them honestly with compassion.

PMTC: How does it feel to be back on stage again? DD: In a word, great! In more words. I had some butterflies about being with people again. Not that I was completely isolated during the pandemic, but I've been working from home and most of my outside interactions have consisted of going to the grocery store or having (fully-vaccinated) friends over for dinner. PMTC has been great about COVID protocols though, so I feel safe rehearsing with my fellow actors and our director, Bill Hurlbut. As far as the acting goes, it has been like getting back on that bike! I love being in the rehearsal room, exploring the characters, talking about their motivations and actions, and just generally working through the meat of the piece together.


Don't miss MD Theatre Guide's "Quick 5" interview with "Digraced" director, Bill Hurlbut here.

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