Sanaz Toossi's play about Iranian students learning English as a second language earned critical acclaim for its Off-Broadway premiere in spring 2022.
In a co-production with Roundabout Theatre Company's Roundabout Underground, Atlantic Theater Company presents the world premiere of English, written by Iranian American playwright Sanaz Toossi, at the Linda Gross Theater. English tickets will be available on New York Theatre Guide soon.
English is a play that takes place in an Iranian classroom. A group of four adult students are preparing to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or the TOEFL. The classroom’s one rule is that they may only speak English. The idea excites them, and they test their skill throughout the play through word games, listening practice, and show-and-tell. They hope learning English will “make them whole,” but they risk losing their connection to their native tongue in the process, creating a gap between their English-speaking and Farsi-speaking selves.
Toossi premiered a one-act play during Atlantic’s Middle Eastern MixFest in 2018, curated by Mona Mansour (whose play The Vagrant Trilogy will appear at The Public Theater in April) and Heather Raffo. Three years later, Atlantic is producing English Off-Broadway in Toossi’s full-length professional debut as a playwright. English won a place on the 2019 Kilroys List and was an L. Arnold Weissberger New Play Award winner. Toossi also wrote Wish You Were Here, which was meant to premiere at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2020 before being canceled.
Director Knud Adams previously helmed The Headlands at the Claire Tow Theater, one of Lincoln Center Theater’s Off-Broadway spaces. Most recently, he directed Eboni Booth’s Paris for Atlantic Theater Company in early 2020, which received a four-star review from New York Theatre Guide and was listed as one of the “10 Best Theater Moments of 2020” by Time Magazine.
Tickets to English will be available soon.
Two words set in motion playwright Sanaz Toossi’s intricate and profound New York debut: “English Only.” This is the mantra that rules one classroom in Iran, where four adult students are preparing for the TOEFL — the Test of English as a Foreign Language. Chasing fluency through a maze of word games, listening exercises, and show-and-tell sessions, they hope that one day, English will make them whole. But it might be splitting them each in half.
Cast and creative
By: Sanaz Toossi
Director: Knud Adams
Producer: Roundabout Theatre Company / Roundabout Underground
Cast list: Tala Ashe (as Elham), Ava Lalezarzadeh (as Goli), Pooya Mohseni (as Roya), Marjan Neshat (as Marjan), Hadi Tabbal (as Omid)
Design: Marsha Ginsberg
Lighting: Reza Behjat
Costume: Enver Chakartash
Sound: Sinan Refik