Rajiv Joseph

Rajiv is born. It is June 16, 1974. His mother is from Cleveland, Ohio and his father is an immigrant from India.

 

Rajiv is 11. He is cast in the ensemble of Nine at a community theatre. (1985)

 

Rajiv is 13. He is voted Most Likely To Become a Priest in eight grade at Gesu Catholic School. He loves the rituals of mass and the theatricality of Bible stories. (1987)

 

Rajiv is 22. He graduates from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio with a B.A. in Creative Writing. He joins the Peace Corps and goes to Senegal where he begins writing daily about his moods, frustrations, and breakthroughs with the villagers. (1992-1996)

 

Rajiv is 26. He returns from Senegal and moves to New York City. (2000)

 

Rajiv is 29. He begins writing plays seriously for the first time. (2003)

 

Rajiv is 31. He graduates from NYU with an MFA in Dramatic Writing. (2004)

 

Rajiv is 32. His play Huck and Holden debutes at Cherry Lane Theatre. All This Intimacy premieres at McGinn/Cazale Theatre. (2006)

 

Rajiv is 33. The Leopard and the Fox is produces Off-Off-Broadway at the TBG Theatre. (2007)

 

Rajiv is 34. Animals Out of Paper premieres at McGinn/Cazale Theatre. (2008)

 

Rajiv is 35. Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo debutes at Kirk Douglas Theatre. Gruesome Playground Injuries premieres at the Alley Theatre. Rajiv works with dramaturg Mark Bly to make small adjustments to the play. (2009)

 

Rajiv is 36. Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo is a Pulitzer Prize finalist. (2010)

 

Rajiv is 37. The North Pool premieres at TheatreWorks. The Monster at the Door premieres at the Alley Theatre. He also writes for seasons 3 and 4 of Nurse Jackie. (2011)

 

Rajiv is 39. The Lake Effect premieres at Silk Road Rising. Rajiv receives the Joseph Jefferson Aware for Best New Work.  (2013)

 

Rajiv is 41. Guards at the Taj premieres at the Atlantic Theatre Company Off-Broadway. It is nominated for the Lucille Lortel Awards and wins an Obie Award for Best New American Play. (2015)

 
On GPI

He began writing GPI after going to the bar with a friend who told him several stories of his injuries. He said, “I thought, as he was telling me all these crazy stories, how the accidents and the scars that cover one’s body can be a map of one’s existence. That led me to a different line of thinking: What if those same scars and markings not only charted your existence but charted your relationships with someone else?” While at the bar he wrote down the title. Later, he wrote ages 8, 13, and 18 first. Then, he made the decision to jump forward 15 and back 10 because he liked the repetition of age 23. He believes that the most challenging part of the play is the scene transitions.

He rejects the idea that GPI is optimistic or pessimistic. Responding to critics who question the space in-between meetings, he said, “The truth of it is that notions of the Internet and cell phones don’t matter to these two people. Technology does not keep people closer together. People still fall in and out of each other’s lives even though they could Google each other.”

 

While working with dramaturg Mark Bly at the Alley theatre, Bly said, “The characters have to resist the temptation to be rational and reasonable.”

Joseph says, “For all the injury and all the unhappiness and all the missed chances, these are still two people who love each other…There’s memories worth rekindling.”

 

Influences
  • Playwrights: Joseph says he’s been heavily influenced by Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel and Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Our Lady of 121st Street, which made him want to write plays. Other playwriting heroes include Theresa Rebeck and David Lindsay Abaire.

  • Identity: “Being mixed-race has always been a part of my identity. You are never fully one thing or the other. You always feel a little apart, a little bit of an outsider, even when you are with your own family. That’s an interesting perspective for looking at the world.”

  • Identity: “I’d been largely incurious about America’s place in the world, and America itself, before Senegal. But I came back and felt like my own country was an oddity… And then, after 9/11, I saw such sweeping anti-Islamic sentiment here after three years with people who were mostly Muslim. Being American, at home and out in the world, became something to write about.”

  • Religion:”I’ve come to think of myself, among other things, as a Catholic playwright.”

 
Versatility

Joseph is not associated with one particular drama, having produced comedies, dramas, and thrillers. there are consistencies throughout his work. He is interested in ritual, gore, outsiders, Indian heritage, good and evil, and sin and redemption.

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