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Robin Williams made his Broadway debut in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo!

Click here for a podcast interview with Rajiv Joseph, author of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,
via National Endowment for the Arts

Transcript Excerpts from the Interview
Click here to listen to the podcast!

"I somehow see the play as more of a ghost story than a war story, in that the politics of the Iraq war act as a backdrop of the actual action and the characters and their kind of struggles in the play.

The genesis of the story, came from a small Associated Press article in the New York Times back in 2003 that dealt with an event, an actual event, at the Baghdad Zoo shortly after the fall of Baghdad, where a soldier was trying to feed a Bengal tiger in a cage and his hand was bitten by the tiger, and so the other soldier shot and killed the tiger.

By the end of the first act, half the cast is dead, and yet they're more active than ever, and changing at a rapidly increasing pace, and many of them are struggling to figure out, 'Well, what next?'

The play explores the concept of: okay, you're alive after death, but then you still don't know what to do with yourself, and you have to figure out, 'Well, what am I going to do, just wander around for all of eternity?'

It absolutely is a play about translation...First and foremost one of the main a translator for the military. But within that kind of job that he has, we have several scenes in the play where one character stands between two others and tries to facilitate communication and understanding, and it seems to me that that's an important act.

...As an audience, we're hearing languages that we don't understand. And there's no subtitles or supertitles used in the play, by my prescription, that it's important for the audience to me to be part of that confusion and to be part of the tension that builds when people cannot communicate.

I think that there's these intersections of two worlds that are coming together in many ways, and I think to me, you could talk about the intersection of America and Iraq. You could talk about the intersection of the dead and the living. And then you could kind of also [talk about] the intersection of the primal and the political."

In reference to his work in the Peace Corp:

"I was speaking a local language called Mandinka, and I struggled with it, and I found myself in many situations where I was either unable to communicate, or thinking I was communicating something, communicating something totally different."

Production Photos from Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo