English

A SAMUEL FRENCH, INC. TITLE

English

Full-Length Play, Dramatic Comedy  /  4w, 1m

Two words set in motion award-winning playwright Sanaz Toossi’s intricate, hilarious and profound New York debut: “English Only.” This is the mantra that rules one classroom in Iran, where four adult students prepare for the TOEFL — the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Image: 2022 Atlantic Theater Company Production (Ahron R. Foster)

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    4w, 1m
  • Duration
    Duration
    105 Minutes
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    Adult, Teen (Age 14 - 18)
Accolades
Accolades
  • Winner! 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Drama
    Winner! 2023 Obie Award for Best New American Play
    Nominee: 2022 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play

Details

Summary
It’s 2008, and four Iranians assemble triweekly in a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) class in Karaj, Iran. The students are led by Marjan, an anglophile who abolishes Farsi from her classroom. They translate Ricky Martin and endure major preposition confusion; they discover how to be funny in English and ponder what they will lose in the process. As the class slowly devolves into a linguistic mess, some students cling tighter to their mother tongue while others embrace the possibilities of a new language.
History
English premiered off-Broadway at Atlantic Theater Company's Linda Gross Theater on February 5, 2022. Directed by Knud Adams, the production featured Tala Ashe, Ava Lalezarzadeh, Pooya Mohseni, Marjan Neshat and Hadi Tabbal.
MARJAN – the teacher; 44; light accent; was taught American English
ELHAM – a student; 28; very thick accent; bulldozes through English
ROYA – a student; 54; thick accent
OMID – a student; 29; barely detectable accent
GOLI – a student; 18; light, sweet accent
  • Time Period New Millennium/21st Century
  • Setting A classroom in Karaj, Iran. 2008.
  • Features Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes
  • Additional Features No intermission
  • Duration 105 Minutes
  • Cautions
    • Strong Language
    • Smoking

Media

“A rich new play... both contemplative and comic.” – Jesse Green, The New York Times

★★★★★ “A stunning play about hope, belonging and desire... English is both a buoyant comedy of communication and a subtle but probing exploration of what it means to speak out loud and feel understood. That one play can accomplish as much with wit, ease, precision, and heart, as English does in a swift 115 minutes, makes it among the best new plays of the season.” – Naveen Kumar, New York Theatre Guide

Critic's Pick! “A rich new play... both contemplative and comic, it nails every opportunity for big laughs as its English-learning characters struggle with accents and idioms. But the laughter provides cover for the deeper idea that their struggle is not just linguistic.” – Jesse Green, The New York Times

“There’s no shortage of easy comedy to be wrung from the conceit of foreigners who talk ‘funny’... But, while Toossi’s play frequently delights in the infelicities of imperfect speech, it’s never cruel.” – Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker

“One of the best plays in New York right now! Exquisitely written, performed, and directed. Those plays that appear, shimmer, and conquer an audience so wholly you feel a delicious, building two-way crackle in the room as a performance progresses. English is one such gem. This critic’s advice is pretty simple. Book a ticket!” – Tim Teeman, The Daily Beast

“An outstanding play. A masterfully executed look at the impossibility of translating humanity through imperfect means.” – Juan A. Ramirez, Theatrely

“Fascinating and completely satisfying. Toossi’s implications would be admirable at any time, but it is unquestionably relevant to 2022.” – David Finkle, New York Stage Review

Videos

  • English Trailer - Atlantic Theater youtube thumbnail

    English Trailer - Atlantic Theater

  • Sanaz Toossi and Knud Adams discuss English youtube thumbnail

    Sanaz Toossi and Knud Adams discuss English

  • English: Behind-the-scenes Interviews with the Cast youtube thumbnail

    English: Behind-the-scenes Interviews with the Cast

  • English: Virtual Theater Talk, Atlantic Theater Company youtube thumbnail

    English: Virtual Theater Talk, Atlantic Theater Company

Photos

  • English

    Image: 2022 Atlantic Theater Company Production (Ahron R. Foster)

  • English

    Image: 2022 Atlantic Theater Company Production (Ahron R. Foster)

Licensing & Materials

  • Minimum Fee: £55 per performance plus VAT when applicable.

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Authors

Sanaz Toossi

Sanaz Toossi is an Iranian-American playwright from Orange County, California. Her plays include the critically acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize-winning English (co-production, Atlantic Theater Company/Roundabout Theatre Company) and Wish You Were Here (Playwrights Horizons; William ...

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