Rajiv Joseph

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Rajiv Joseph
Image-Rajiv Joseph by Jessica Johnston.jpg
Born (1974-06-16) June 16, 1974 (age 40)
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.
Occupation Playwright

Rajiv Joseph (born June 16, 1974) is an American playwright and a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Early life[edit]

Rajiv Joseph was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio; his mother is Euroamerican of French and German ancestry and his father is of Indian ancestry and immigrated to the States from India.[1] He attended Cleveland Heights High School and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1996 with a B.A. in Creative Writing. While at Miami he was a member of the university's Men's Glee Club and its premier male a cappella group, the Cheezies.[2] Joseph also competed for the highly decorated Miami University Individual Events forensics team.[citation needed]

Following graduation Joseph joined the Peace Corps, serving three formative years in the West African Republic of Senegal,[3] including two years in Koular and the third in Kaolack.[1] Joseph has stated about his time there: "Being in Senegal, more than anything else in my life, made me into a writer."[1] His time in Senegal helped him develop the discipline of daily writing and inspired his "fascination with the power of language"; as he has stated: "It felt a little like being a child again, because your language skills are on the level of a 4-year-old, so the adults kind of ignore you, but the children cluster around you telling you what everything is called".[4]

Joseph earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2004. He has taught Essay Writing at New York University and wrote for Seasons 3 and 4 of the Showtime series Nurse Jackie.[5]


Theatrical credits[edit]

Joseph's first production, Huck & Holden, debuted at the Cherry Lane Theatre in 2005.[6] The play also had a West Coast run at the Black Dahlia Theater in Los Angeles the following year. Joseph has stated that the story, about an Indian college student arriving in the United States, is based on his father's experiences coming to the States.[1][4] His mixed-race background has given him what one critic has called a "fearlessness" about racial topics: ""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."[4]

All This Intimacy premiered at New York's McGinn/Cazale Theater in 2006.[7] The TBG Theater featured Joseph's re-imagining of The Leopard and the Fox in 2007.[8]

Second Stage Theatre presented the world premiere of Joseph's Animals Out of Paper in 2008. [9] Animals Out of Paper has been staged at Boise Contemporary Theater (2009), at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney, Australia, San Francisco Playhouse in 2010,[10] Portland, Maine (January 2011), and Fort Worth, Texas (March 2011). In September 2014, Joseph's Animals Out of Paper had its Los Angeles, California premiere at East West Players starring C.S. Lee, Tess Lina and Kapil Talwalkar. [11] Animals out of Paper was presented in Bangalore, India in September 2014 at Jagriti Theatre. It was produced by Jugaad Co.[12] and got very good reviews. The production featured close to 75 pieces of origami.

Joseph's Pulitzer finalist production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, directed by Moisés Kaufman, debuted at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California in May, 2009.[13] It ran at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles April 14 - May 30, 2010 and premiered on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in March 2011, with Robin Williams playing the titular character.[14] In October 2013 it had its premiere in San Francisco at San Francisco Playhouse where it was very well received in the press.[15]

Gruesome Playground Injuries, starring Selma Blair and Brad Fleischer, had its world premiere in October 2009 at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas.[16] Another staging at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. ran in May 2010.[17] Its Off-Broadway production opened January 2011 at the Second Stage Theatre in New York City, starring Pablo Schreiber and Jennifer Carpenter.

The North Pool premiered at TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley in the spring of 2011.[18] Barrington Stage Company in The Berkshires introduced East Coast audiences to The North Pool in July 2012.

The Monster at the Door debuted at Houston's Alley Theatre in May 2011.[19]

The Lake Effect premiered at Chicago's Silk Road Rising on April 23, 2013.[20] The production received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work.[21] [22] Its TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley production opened March 2015, starring Adam Poss, Nilanjana Bose and Jason Bowen. [23]

In December 2013, Joseph and fellow playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney were featured in Robert Levi's PBS Film, Playwright: From Page to Stage, which aired on Independent Lens. [24]

In 2015, Joseph will have two world premieres of new plays. South Coast Repertory is presenting the world premiere of Mr. Wolf, directed by David Emmes, as part of the 18th Annual Pacific Playwrights Festival, on the Julianne Argyros Stage, from April 12, 2015 - May 3, 2015. Atlantic Theater Company is presenting the world premiere of Guards at the Taj in the Linda Gross Theater, starring Tony Award® Nominees Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed, from May 20, 2015 to June 28, 2015. Set in 1648 at the completion of the Taj Mahal, two Imperial Guards watch from their post and are forced to question the concept of friendship, beauty and duty that changes them forever. [25]

Film credits[edit]

Rajiv co-wrote the script for Draft Day in 2014 [26]


In 2008, Joseph was awarded the Vineyard Theatre's Paula Vogel Award given to emerging playwrights.[27]

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was chosen by the NEA in 2008 as one of two Outstanding New American plays.[28]

Joseph received the 2009 Kesselring Fellowship awarded to emerging dramatists.[29]

Joseph participated in the 10th Annual Sundance Playwrights Retreat in Ucross, Wyoming in February, 2009.

Animals Out of Paper received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for 'Outstanding Play' on April 2, 2009.

The 2009 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards nominated Joseph for "Playwriting for an Original Play" for Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.[30] The play also won five Backstage Garland Awards in 2010.

Joseph also received a Whiting Writers' Award in 2009, an international award given annually to 10 writers of fiction, nonfiction, plays, and/or poetry who show "exceptional talent and promise in early career".[31]

On April 12, 2010 Joseph was named a Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist for Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.

Joseph was named a 2010 USA Rockefeller Fellow by United States Artists.

The North Pool was awarded the 2011 Glickman Award for the best play to make its world premiere in the Bay Area [6] and the 2010 Edgerton New American Play Award.

In 2013, Joseph received The Steinberg Playwright Award.[32]

In 2015, Joseph received the $150,000 Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for his new play The Guards at the Taj, which will have it's world premiere at Atlantic Theater Company in May 2015. [33]


  1. ^ a b c d Monji, Jana (June 13, 2009). "Talking to the Man Behind the Tiger: Rajiv Joseph". LA Examiner. 
  2. ^ http://www.mucheezies.org/#!vstc0=members
  3. ^ Vineyard Presents Paula Vogel Award To Rajiv Joseph (BroadwayWorld.com)
  4. ^ a b c D'Souza, Karen (5 March 2011). "Rajiv Joseph: A fresh and compelling voice in theater". Silicon Valley Mercury News. Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Healy, Patrick (December 29, 2010). "Rajiv Joseph's ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries,' Second Stage". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ offoffonline - off-off-Broadway reviews, listings, and more
  7. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (July 28, 2006). "‘All This Intimacy’ Shows a Louse’s Animal Magnetism". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ La Rocco, Claudia (October 31, 2007). "An Old Story, With No End in Sight". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ Gates, Anita. "Works Well With Paper, Has Trouble With Life". New York Times, August 5, 2008
  10. ^ [1] http://www.sfplayhouse.org/
  11. ^ Chang, Lia. "East West Players’ Los Angeles Premiere of “Animals Out of Paper” by Rajiv Joseph, Featuring C.S. Lee and Tess Lina, Opens Sept. 10". BackstagePasswithLiaChang.com, September 6, 2014
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo | May 10 - June 7, 2009 | Kirk Douglas Theatre | Los Angeles | Center Theatre Group
  14. ^ Jones, Kenneth.Robin Williams Will Prowl Richard Rodgers Theatre as Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" playbill.com, November 12, 2010
  15. ^ "SF Gate". Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  16. ^ [3] theatermania.com
  17. ^ [4] theatermania.com
  18. ^ "Welcome to TheatreWorks". Theatreworks.org. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  19. ^ [5][dead link]
  20. ^ "The Lake Effect - Live Theatre". Silk Road Rising. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  21. ^ "2013 Equity Jeff Awards". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-12-12. 
  22. ^ Chang, Lia. "Photos: André De Shields, Michael Shannon, Rajiv Joseph, Christine Sherrill, Doug Peck, Alexis J. Rogers, Karen Ziemba and More Celebrate 2013 Jeff Equity Awards". BackstagePasswithLiaChang.com, November 12, 2013
  23. ^ Chang, Lia. "TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents Rajiv Joseph’s THE LAKE EFFECT Starring Adam Poss, Nilanjana Bose, Jason Bowen through March 29". BackstagePasswithLiaChang.com, March 5, 2015
  24. ^ Chang, Lia. "Dec. 16: Award Winning Playwrights Rajiv Joseph and Tarell Alvin McCraney, the focus of PBS Film, Playwright: From Page to Stage". BackstagePasswithLiaChang.com, November 27, 2013
  25. ^ Chang, Lia. "Tony Award® Nominees Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed to star in Rajiv Joseph’s GUARDS AT THE TAJ, helmed by Amy Morton, at Atlantic Theater Company, May 20-June 28". BackstagePasswithLiaChang.com, March 3, 2015
  26. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4396670/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
  27. ^ Rajiv Joseph Wins Paula Vogel Playwriting Award: Theater News on TheaterMania.com
  28. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (October 28, 2008). "N.E.A. Gives Grants to Seven Productions". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ Cox, Gordon (February 13, 2009). "Kesselring Fellowship honors duo". Variety. [dead link]
  30. ^ "Janney, Hilty, Louis & Keely, Fitzgerald, Margulies, Ellis Among L.A. Ovation Nominees". Playbill.com. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  31. ^ "10 writers each win $50,000 prize". Victoria Advocate. 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2013-03-29. 
  32. ^ Chang, Lia (November 21, 2013). "Photos: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright "Mimi" Awards". Backstage Pass with Lia Chang. 
  33. ^ Chang, Lia. "Playwright Rajiv Joseph wins Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for New Play GUARDS AT THE TAJ; Set for World Premiere at Atlantic Theater Company in May". BackstagePasswithLiaChang.com, January 22, 2015

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