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The Season
Home Discussion with Dr. Reza Aslan and Ayad Akhtar
Reza Aslan and Ayad Akhtar

Free Pre-Show Discussion with Dr. Reza Aslan and Ayad Akhtar

Friday, February 21 at 5:45 pm. Doors open at 5:30 pm.

The Playhouse will host "The Human Divine: Searching for the Person within the Sacred," a free, public pre-show discussion in the Potiker Theatre featuring internationally-acclaimed writer and scholar Dr. Reza Aslan, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, and Ayad Akhtar, to be moderated by Playhouse Director of New Play Development Gabriel Greene. "The Human Divine" explores the desire to uncover the historical background of religious figures, the controversy that inevitably follows such attempts, and the possibility of a dialogue between the sacred and the human. Dr. Aslan's book Zealot seeks to present a historical picture of Jesus, while a character in Akhtar's The Who & The What writes a novel meant to humanize the Prophet Muhammad. Reservations required.


Additional events include:

Q&A with Ayad Akhtar and Gabriel Greene

Sunday, February 16 following the 2:00 pm performance of The Who & The What
Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre

Ayad Akhtar Book Signing at Warwick's Book Store in La Jolla

Monday, February 10 at 7:30 pm

Click to see more Audience Engagement events


Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the author of American Dervish, published in 25 languages worldwide and named a 2012 Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, Toronto's Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness and O (Oprah) Magazine. His stage play, Disgraced, played at Lincoln Center Theatre in 2012 and will be premiering at the Bush Theater in London in May, 2013. Disgraced also won the Jeff Equity Award for Best New Play in 2012. Akhtar was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has received commissions from Lincoln Center and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities, with degrees in Theater and Film Directing.

Dr. Reza Aslan, an internationally-acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the founder of, an online journal for news and entertainment about the Middle East and the world, and co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of BoomGen Studios, the premier entertainment brand for creative content from and about the Greater Middle East. Aslan's degrees include a B.A. in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, a Ph.D. in the Sociology of Religions from UC Santa Barbara and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. An Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also a member of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He serves on the board of directors of the Ploughshares Fund, which gives grants for peace and security issues; Narrative Four, which connects people through the exchange of stories; PEN USA, which champions the rights of writers under siege around the world; and the Levantine Cultural Center, which builds bridges between Americans and the Arab/Muslim world through the arts. Aslan's first book is the International Bestseller No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, which has been translated into thirteen languages, and named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade. He is also the author of How to Win a Cosmic War (published in paperback as Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in a Globalized Age), as well as editor of two volumes: Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, and Muslims and Jews in America: Commonalties, Contentions, and Complexities. Born in Iran, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, author and entrepreneur Jessica Jackley, where he is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Cooperating Faculty in the Department of Religion at UC Riverside.