Zayd Dohrn’s plays include Outside People (The Vineyard/Naked Angels), Want (Steppenwolf First Look), Sick (Berkshire Theatre Festival/National New Play Network), and Reborning (The Public/SPF). Zayd received Lincoln Center’s Lecomte du Nouy Prize, the Kennedy Center’s Jean Kennedy Smith Award, the Sky Cooper American Playwriting Prize, and Theatre Masters' Visionary Playwrights Award, and was an Artist in Residence at New York Stage & Film, the Orchard Project, the Chautauqua Institute, Stella Adler Studios, and Theatre for One. He received his MFA from NYU, was a Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at Juilliard, and currently teaches playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University. www.zayddohrn.com. (As of February 2016)
Photo by Zack DeZon
Brutal, funny, and powerful, Dohrn writes fantastic dialogue, masterfully balancing grit and humor.
The two families in The Profane are American. They’re also immigrants, as most Americans are or were, somewhere back in the family tree, navigating the difficulties of assimilation, holding onto some of their traditions and altering others, trying to maintain an authentic identity while becoming something new.
The action in The Profane starts when the daughter of super-urbane and secular Arab-American writer, Raif, announces her engagement to the son of traditional, working-class Arab-American parents. Plays about lovers from divergent backgrounds abound in the history of the theater. We all love a happy ending. But most often, when playwrights introduce marriages into their plays, they are looking for trouble.
“The Profane” reflects Zayd’s international perspective, his cosmopolitan sensibility, and his keen sensitivity to the often unspoken dynamics that can unite or divide people from different worlds. It is also, like others of his plays, a story about the sometimes maddening difficulty of being a parent.
“Who are the secular humanists?” Paul Kurtz, founder of the Council for Secular Humanism, asks. “Perhaps,” he proposes, “everyone who believes in the principles of free inquiry, ethics based upon reason, and a commitment to science, democracy, and freedom. Perhaps even you.”