Posted by on May 19, 2017 in Illustration, Portland Stage Company | 2 comments

When I read the script last year for Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced, it leapt off the page. This play is his first, and he’s the first Muslim playwright to win a Pulitzer. The story begins in Amir and Emily’s posh apartment on the Upper West Side in NYC, where issues of identity, race, religion, and culture clash in unforgettable drama.

The play begins with Emily sketching Amir, inspired by Velazquez’s Portrait of Juan de Peraja.


It played into my first sketch for the poster.


Amir has renounced the religion of his birth, Islam, and diligently climbed the ladder at a law firm. I made him the central figure in many of my sketches, and used Islamic patterns for a focal point.



In one scene, the dinner party shares a celebratory toast. It unravels from there.



I tried a bit of mystery with this one.


Much like Emily, Amir’s painter wife, I fell in love with Islamic patterns as I researched my visual frontier for this poster.


I kept trying to draw them. So much beauty in the organization, but challenging to get the order of it.




Portland Stage chose the sketch with the four actors raising their glasses. But they wanted some of the patterns coming into the image. I revised that sketch.


I asked my neighbors, the Moxhays, to come over and pose for me. They happily obliged.

Marty became Amir, Olwyn became Emily, Peter became Isaac, and Katheryn became Jory. This was the illustration in progress.


I added the patterns digitally over the pastel for the final illustration.


I brought Marty and the Moxhays to see the play last night. It’s always a treat to see how Portland Stage has given life to the setting. The set design by Anita Stewart is stunning. The lighting design by Cecilia Durbin was spectacular; the exterior cityscape changing from day to night was gorgeously achieved.


Director Christopher Grabowski managed a nimble cast for an incredibly tight show. Alex Purcell gave an intense performance of his complex and conflicted character, Amir. Wow. This is a play that must be seen to be believed, and it is very believable, yet everything is unexpected. Thanks to Portland Stage for producing works that cause us to question, have more conversations, and look deeper. This is the last weekend to go. GO.

They will take a little summer breather until their next production, All Night Strut. Marty posed with his poster yesterday. Looks like fun!




  1. Dear Jamie
    Bravo !!!
    Oh, how I love to see and follow your thinking along the way to the final work. It’s an education all of its own. Wonderful!
    And love the pix of Marty the smiling one and his upbeat poster !!
    You two are something else ……………

    • Gunnel, I always appreciate your feedback. It keeps me going! Thanks and I hope to see you soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *