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Pulitzer Winning Playwright Returns Home to Partner with Milwaukee Rep

Playwright Ayad Akhtar

If you studied economics, you know about the “invisible hand.” Adam Smith first used the term in the 18th century to make the case that the self-interest of people in the marketplace does lead to greater benefit for everyone.

Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Ayad Ahktar takes that theory and kind of turns it on its ear. Opening this week at the Stiemke Studio Theater at the Rep, his play, The Invisible Hand, follows the kidnapping of an American investment banker by Pakistani terrorists, who demand that he raise his own ransom money by trading on the global currency markets. It’s one part thriller and one part engrossing character study that looks into how far we'll go to save ourselves and the ramifications of our actions on global politics.

Credit The Milwaukee Rep
The Milwaukee Rep

Ahktar has written multiple plays that take on themes of social drama, racism and religion.

Ahktar is himself is Pakistani-American and grew up in the Milwaukee area. The show opening this week is his the first production of his four-year-long playwright-in-residence position with the Milwaukee Rep.

Since his work has kept him mainly in New York amidst the Broadway scene, Ahktar is very excited to be working with the Milwaukee Rep, what he calls "a blossoming institution."

"I believe that theatre is about communal experience, and I think that the extent to which growing a sense of community in Milwaukee is something that the theatre can assist in doing - I want to be a part of that," says Ahktar.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.
Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.