Actors from the School of the Arts Conservatory of Theatre Arts were among the first to perform Rajiv Joseph's play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo while it was in development.
Acting student Otis Cotton played the title role which will be performed by Robin Williams on Broadway in the spring. Giovanna Sardelli was the director and the play was presented in collaboration with the Lark Theatre Company at the Performing Arts Center in December of 2006.
Arrangements were made by Professor David Bassuk artistic director of the Purchase Repertory Theatre at the time. Through a collaboration agreement, the Lark Theatre Company would benefit by our helping a playwright develop a new script and Purchase would benefit by offering students the opportunity to work on a new play within our training programs. The project was developed with an all student cast and an all student design and production team. The guest director Giovanna Sardelli was recommended by the author and Purchase brought playwright Rajiv Joseph to campus to work with the production and with the Dramatic Writing students. The production concluded with a post-play discussion with Mr. Joseph, the cast, the audience, and John Clinton Eisner Producing Director Lark Play Development Center.
The play follows the fall of Saddam Hussein. American soldiers, a translator, ghosts and a tiger wander the doomed streets of Baghdad trying to find what's been lost in the ruins. It is narrated by a philosophical tiger to be played by Robin Williams. It is a meditation on the spoils of war in the 21st century.
The play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and was produced to excellent reviews at the Center Theatre in Los Angeles before its debut on Broadway in March.
"I am extremely honored and excited by this. I've been thinking a lot lately about the production we did at Purchase a few years back. What a helpful and crucial moment in the development of my play. Thanks for that," said Rajiv Joseph.