Junk: The Golden Age of Debt

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Junk: The Golden Age of Debt is a 2016 play by Ayad Akhtar. It premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse in July 2016 and then on Broadway in 2017 and centers on a corporate takeover.


Described as a mix between a Shakespearean play and The Big Short, the play examines the point in American history when debt overtook value as the main route toward obtaining wealth.[1] Although the characters are fictionalized, they are based upon real-life financial figures from the 1980s such as Michael Milken and others.[2][3]

Production history[edit]

Junk received a reading at the Vassar College Powerhouse Theater on June 26, 2015, directed by Doug Hughes.[4]

The play premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse (California) from July 26 to August 21, 2016, directed by Doug Hughes. [1]

The production opened on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater on October 5, 2017 in previews, and officially opened on November 2, 2017.[5] The play closed on January 7, 2018 after 77 performances. The play was nominated for the 2018 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Play.[6] The play was nominated for the 2018 Tony Award for Best Play and Tony Award for Best Lighting Design in a Play.[7]

Characters and original cast[edit]

Role La Jolla Playhouse (2016)[8] Broadway (2017)
Amy Merkin Annika Boras Miriam Silverman
Giuseppi Addesso Benjamin Burdick Charlie Semine
Corrigan Wiley/Union Rep/Curt Tony Carlin
Robert Merkin Josh Cooke Steven Pasquale
Charlene Stewart Zora Howard Caroline Hewitt
Judy Chen Jennifer Ikeda Teresa Avia Lim
Murray Lefkowitz/Chen’s Lawyer Jason Kravits Ethan Phillips
Jacqueline Blount Zakiya Iman Markland Ito Aghayere
Boris Pronsky Jeff Marlow Joey Stotnick
Mark O’Hare/Merkin’s Lawyer/Union Worker Sean McIntyre Ted Koch
Leo Tresler David Rasche Michael Siberry
Israel Peterman Matthew Rauch
Raúl Rivera Armando Riesco Matthew Saldivar
Thomas Everson Linus Roache Rick Holmes
Devon Atkins/Waiter Hunter Spangler Nate Miller
Maximilien Cizik Henry Stram
Kevin Walsh Keith Wallace Phillip James Brannon


Per the production’s official press release: “It's 1985. Robert Merkin, the resident genius of the upstart investment firm Sacker Lowell has just landed on the cover of Time Magazine. Hailed as "America's Alchemist," his proclamation that "debt is an asset" has propelled him to dizzying heights. Zealously promoting his belief in the near-sacred infallibility of markets, he is trying to re-shape the world.

JUNK is the story of Merkin's assault on American capitalism's holy of holies, the "deal of the decade," his attempt to takeover an iconic American manufacturing company and, in the process, to change all the rules. What Merkin sets in motion is nothing less than a financial civil war, pitting magnates against workers, lawyers against journalists, and ultimately, pitting every one against themselves.”


  1. ^ a b McNulty, Charles (2016-08-08). "Seduced by Ayad Akhtar's 'Junk,' the new play that picks apart the Wall Street playbook". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  2. ^ Auerbach, Brad. "World Premiere of "Junk: The Golden Age of Debt" at La Jolla Playhouse". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  3. ^ Kragen, Pam. "Greed corrupts in thrilling 'Junk'". sandiegouniontribune.com. Retrieved 2017-06-18.
  4. ^ "Readings" powerhouse.vassar.edu, retrieved October 27, 2017
  5. ^ Clement, Olivia. "Wall Street Play 'Junk' Begins Performances on Broadway" Playbill, October 5, 2017
  6. ^ Junk Playbill (vault), retrieved April 25, 2018
  7. ^ "2018 Tony Award Nominations: 'SpongeBob SquarePants' and 'Mean Girls' Lead the Pack" Playbill, May 1, 2018
  8. ^ "Production Guide" (PDF). www.lajollaplayhouse.org. La Jolla Playhouse. 15 June 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2017.

External links[edit]