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|Born|| June 16, 1974 |
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.
|Born|| June 16, 1974 |
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.
Rajiv Joseph was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio; his mother is Euroamerican of French and German ancestry and his father is of Indian ancestry and immigrated to the States from India. He attended Cleveland Heights High School and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1996 with a B.A. in Creative Writing. While at Miami he was a member of the university's Men's Glee Club and its premier male a cappella group, the Cheezies. Joseph also competed for the highly decorated Miami University Individual Events forensics team.
Following graduation Joseph joined the Peace Corps, serving three formative years in the West African Republic of Senegal, including two years in Koular and the third in Kaolack. Joseph has stated about his time there: "Being in Senegal, more than anything else in my life, made me into a writer." His time in Senegal helped him develop the discipline of daily writing and inspired his "fascination with the power of language"; as he has stated: "It felt a little like being a child again, because your language skills are on the level of a 4-year-old, so the adults kind of ignore you, but the children cluster around you telling you what everything is called".
Joseph earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 2004. He has taught Essay Writing at New York University and wrote for Seasons 3 and 4 of the Showtime series Nurse Jackie.
Joseph's first production, Huck & Holden, debuted at the Cherry Lane Theatre in 2005. The play also had a West Coast run at the Black Dahlia Theater in Los Angeles the following year. Joseph has stated that the story, about an Indian college student arriving in the United States, is based on his father's experiences coming to the States. His mixed-race background has given him what one critic has called a "fearlessness" about racial topics: ""Being mixed-race has always been a part of my identity. You are never fully one thing or the other. You always feel a little apart, a little bit of an outsider, even when you are with your own family. That's an interesting perspective for looking at the world."
Second Stage Theatre presented the world premiere of Joseph's Animals Out of Paper in 2008.  Animals Out of Paper has been staged at Boise Contemporary Theater (2009), at the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney, Australia, San Francisco Playhouse in 2010, Portland, Maine (January 2011), and Fort Worth, Texas (March 2011). In September 2014, Joseph's Animals Out of Paper had its Los Angeles, California premiere at East West Players starring C.S. Lee, Tess Lina and Kapil Talwalkar.  Animals out of Paper was presented in Bangalore, India in September 2014 at Jagriti Theatre. It was produced by Jugaad Co. and got very good reviews. The production featured close to 75 pieces of origami.
Joseph's Pulitzer finalist production of Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, directed by Moisés Kaufman, debuted at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, California in May, 2009. It ran at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles April 14 - May 30, 2010 and premiered on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in March 2011, with Robin Williams playing the titular character. In October 2013 it had its premiere in San Francisco at San Francisco Playhouse where it was very well received in the press.
Gruesome Playground Injuries, starring Selma Blair and Brad Fleischer, had its world premiere in October 2009 at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas. Another staging at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. ran in May 2010. Its Off-Broadway production opened January 2011 at the Second Stage Theatre in New York City, starring Pablo Schreiber and Jennifer Carpenter.
In 2015, Joseph will have two world premieres of new plays. South Coast Repertory is presenting the world premiere of Mr. Wolf, directed by David Emmes, as part of the 18th Annual Pacific Playwrights Festival, on the Julianne Argyros Stage, from April 12, 2015 - May 3, 2015. In Mr. Wolf, Theresa is 17 years old, and she can map out the solar system. She understands the universe—how and why it came to be. She has a man named Mr. Wolf to thank for that. Now the only life she has ever known is coming to an end. She’s being taken away—turned over to people who are strangers to her. They can’t possibly understand her needs, when they seem to be lost, too. And they’re all asking the same questions: "What is home? Where do I belong?" Atlantic Theater Company is presenting the world premiere of Guards at the Taj in the Linda Gross Theater, from May 28, 2015 to June 28, 2015. Set in 1648 at the completion of the Taj Mahal, two Imperial Guards watch from their post and are forced to question the concept of friendship, beauty and duty that changes them forever. 
Joseph received the 2009 Kesselring Fellowship awarded to emerging dramatists.
Joseph participated in the 10th Annual Sundance Playwrights Retreat in Ucross, Wyoming in February, 2009.
Animals Out of Paper received a Lucille Lortel Award nomination for 'Outstanding Play' on April 2, 2009.
Joseph also received a Whiting Writers' Award in 2009, an international award given annually to 10 writers of fiction, nonfiction, plays, and/or poetry who show "exceptional talent and promise in early career".
On April 12, 2010 Joseph was named a Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist for Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.
Joseph was named a 2010 USA Rockefeller Fellow by United States Artists.
In 2013, Joseph received The Steinberg Playwright Award.
In 2015, Joseph received the $150,000 Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award for his new play The Guards at the Taj, which will have it's world premiere at Atlantic Theater Company in May 2015.