Story of Her Life

Award-winning playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil tackles our dysfunction over immigration

Aditi Brennan Kapil could hardly be more cosmopolitan, more representative of our shrinking world, if she tried. You couldn’t invent a background like hers: Born in Bulgaria to a Bulgarian mother and Indian father, raised in Sweden, immigrated to America in the 1990s to attend Macalester College. Which makes her an ideal playwright to tackle the tumultuous issue of immigration in her new play at Mixed Blood Theater, Agnes Under the BigTop: A Tall Tale.

In some ways, the play simply pulls apart the strings of her own background into separate entities: the Bulgarian ringmaster, for instance, and his wife, who once slaved away at an Indian call center. The play, funded by the NEA’s New Play Development Program, has been a long time coming. There were workshops in Bulgaria, and readings here in Minneapolis. Now, the whole thing is coming together, with performances at Mixed Blood and at the Long Wharf Theatre in Connecticut.

Kapil, who graduated from Macalester in 1994, has been on a roll. Her play Love Person premiered at Mixed Blood in 2008 and won the prestigious Stavis Playwrighting Award at the National Theatre Conference. Some theatre insiders felt it deserved a Pulitzer Prize. In fact, the Pulitzer that following year went to Ruined by Lynn Nottage, which Mixed Blood, in something of a coup, staged soon after—directed by Kapil.

For the true devotees of the playwrighting process (or if you just want to see Kapil speaking Bulgarian), here’s video from the Agnes workshop in Bulgaria:


Read more about Aditi Brennan Kapil in “Telling Tales.”