With humor and ferocity, Pulitizer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar’s new drama The Who & The What at the La Jolla Playhouse examines the chasm between traditional religion and contemporary American life.

The Who & The What
The Who & The What

The play had its world premiere Feb. 11 and runs through March 9 at the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre.

The story concerns outspoken and brilliant Zarina, who was raised in a conservative Muslim family in Atlanta. She routinely clashes with her traditional father and sister. Her one outlet – a recently completed book about women and Islam – threatens to tear her family apart for good.

Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities, with degrees in theater and film directing.

He is the author of American Dervish, published in 25 languages worldwide and named a 2012 Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews.

He was awarded the Pulitizer Prize for drama in 2013 for Disgraced, which depicts a successful corporate lawyer painfully forced to consider why he has for so long camouflaged his Pakistani Muslim heritage.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.