Theatre Exile Presents Pulitzer Prize Winner Ayad Akhtar's The Invisible Hand

Theatre Exile presents an explosive ending to their 19th season with a timely political thriller The Invisible Hand by Pulitzer Prize winner Ayad Akhtar. Nick, an American banker in Pakistan, is imprisoned and must trade shares when his $10M ransom can't be met. The global tale examines how society, money and power shape the good and evil within. Previews begin on Thursday, May 12, 2016 and press opening night is Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 8:00pm. The show runs for a total of 21 performances through Sunday, June 5, 2016. Tickets are on sale now for $10.00 to $40.00 at or by phone (215) 218-4022.

Nick Bright, a highly successful player at a major investment bank is kidnapped and held for ransom by an Islamic militant group. As he awaits his fate in remote Pakistan and with no one negotiating for his release, he must take matters into his own hands. While he works to raise his own ransom, he befriends Bashir one of his captors. Full of questionable alliances and moral bargaining, this Philadelphia premiere is a chilling examination of how far we will go to survive and the consequences of the choices we make.

"The Invisible Hand takes on the feel of an old classic Hollywood heist caper, but the stakes are higher as the lead character fights for his life as his captors fights for a way of life," said veteran Exile Director Matt Pfeiffer. "Great theater asks great questions. Akhtar doesn't wrap up the story in a nice neat package at the end. He leaves audiences searching for answers and questioning their own morality long after the play is over."

Theatre Exile’s production of The Invisible Hand is directed by Barrymore Award winning director Matthew Pfeiffer (North of the Boulevard, The Whale), and stars Ian Merrill Peakes (Exile’s Red Light Winter, Macbeth by Arden Theatre Company, Peter and the Starcatcher by Walnut Street Theatre) as Nick Bright, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh ( Mockingbird  by Kennedy Center, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife by Theater ) as Bashir, J. Paul Nicholas (Exile’s The English Bride, Law & Order: SVU on NBC, Ciphers by Inis Nua Theatre Company) as Imam, and Anthony Mustafa Adair (Disgraced by Philadelphia Theatre Company, La Bete by Arden Theatre Company) as Dar.

The Invisible Hand is set in  a small room “somewhere in Pakistan, in the near future" where Nick is imprisoned. Colin McIlvaine (Set Designer), Masha Tsimring (Lighting Designer), Michael Kiley (Sound Designer) and Clarissa Brodkin (Props Master) will create the intimate environment that will bring the audience up-close-and-person with the prisoner. Other crew members include: Julia Poiesz Troncone (Costume Designer) and Mike Cosenza (Fight Choreographer). Amanda Jensen will serve as Production Manager and Jessica Darling will serve as Stage Manager.

The Invisible Hand premiered at the Repertory Theater of St Louis in March 2012. In 2012, it received a nomination for a Steinberg/ACTA Best New Play Award. In 2015, the play won Akhtar an Obie Award for best playwriting. 

"Akhtar is one of the 21st century's most exciting new voices," added Pfeiffer. "He brings a new perspective missing from American theater. He doesn't shy away from some of the most polarizing issues of the day, including the Muslim experience in America. He tackles divisive issues in a real, raw and unapologetic way." 

Akhtar, the first and only Pakistani-American Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the author of American Dervish, published in over twenty languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto's Globe and Mail, Shelf-Awareness, and O (Oprah) Magazine. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. His stage play Disgraced played at New York's LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in 2012, and won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His latest play, The Who & The What, premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in February 2014, and will be opening in New York at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater in June 2014. As a screenwriter, he was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay for The War Within. He has been the recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo, as well as commissions from Lincoln Center Theater and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He is a graduate of Brown and Columbia Universities with degrees in Theater and Film Directing.

The Invisible Hand runs May 12 through June 5, 2016 (opening night Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 8:00pm). Tickets are $10.00 to $40.00 and are available online at or by calling the Theatre Exile Box Office at (215) 218-4022. Performances for this production take place at Studio X (1340 S. 13th Street). For more information about Theatre Exile, please follow on Twitter at @theatreexile, like on Facebook, call (215) 218-4022 and visit

Theatre Exile thanks Honorary Producers June and Steve Wolfson, plus opening night sponsor Paradiso Restaurant and Wine Bar, and salon sponsor Fringe Salon.


Seattle Times said, "[A] tense, provocative thriller about the unholy nexus of international terrorism and big bucks..."

Newsday said, "Ahktar again turns hypersensitive subjects into thought-provoking and thoughtful drama." 
Financial Times said, "The prime theme is pulsing and alive: when human lives become just one more commodity to be traded, blood eventually flows in the streets."

The Washington Post called Ahktar "a dazzling new voice in American theatre."


Founded in 1996 by Joe Canuso and Trish Kelly, Theatre Exile was created by a group of artists who wanted to rattle the gates of the mainstream. Drawn to plays that delve into the complexities of the human condition and contain a sense of true Philadelphia grit and passion, Exile has produced 60 full-scale productions, including 15 world and 28 Philadelphia premieres. They were the first Philadelphia organization to produce such powerhouse playwrights as Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts, Noah Haidle, Rona Munro, David Harrower, Annie Baker, Rajiv Joseph, Mike Bartlett, Sharr White and Lucas Hnath. For their excellence in producing theatre, they have received 60 Barrymore Award nominations, with 14 awards total. Theatre Exile believes in freedom of expression formulated through innovation, exploration and provocation, all while providing a safe and creative environment, in which local artists can grow, experiment and ultimately, find their own voice.