Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Ayad Akhtar recalls the greed of the ’80s

Bill Moyers at his own website:

ScreenHunter_2915 Dec. 27 10.40Our times at last have found their voice, and it belongs to a Pakistani American: Ayad Akhtar, born in New York, raised in Wisconsin, an alum of Brown and Columbia, actor, novelist, screenwriter and playwright, with an ever-soliciting eye for the wickedness and wonders of the world. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, his plays revel in the combustions of an America on edge, bursting with excess — too much of everything, from wealth and impoverishment to religion, rage and radicalism, from sad hearts and hollow souls and shifting identities to the glorious celebration of money. Perhaps that should be the inglorious celebration of money: E Pluribus Unum transformed into Every Man a Midas. His latest play, Junk, is running through Jan. 7 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center: Lucky you if you can get there over the holidays. One critic calls Junk “an epic, strutting, restless, sexually charged, slam-bang-wham piece of work… A Shakespearan history play of spiraling national consequence.” That’s too modest; Junk is not only history but prophecy. A Biblical-like account of who’s running America — and how. Last week, before I announced that I would be signing off in retirement again, I asked Ayad to join me for this conversation, the last in a series. We had a great time together; it was worth the wait.

Bill Moyers: When your play Junk came to an end, I sat there in my seat, marveling that what I had just seen on the stage was fiction which from my own experience as a journalist I knew to be true.

Ayad Akhtar: Well, Picasso says that art is the lie that tells the truth. So if this absorption in the fictional doings of people is oriented toward the truth in some way — the truth of society or a character or a situation — then you get to the end hopefully having had that experience. I’m very gratified to hear that you did.

More here.