Give Me The MacArthur Genius Grant is Tarek’s second solo work, and certainly the better of the two (as evidenced by the first not having its own webpage)(though it was also good in its own right, just of its time). Give Me The MacArthur Genius Grant was written by Tarek Ziad, edited by Deborah Margolin and Tam Sackman, and originally performed in workshop in August, 2023 with the NYC Department of Parks & Rec at the Herbert Von King Cultural Arts Center. It’s received glowing praise, being labeled both “a lot of fun” and “infinitely mem-able” by The New Haven Independent.

In Give Me The MacArthur Genius Grant, Tarek uses the idea of The MacArthur Fellowship—a shining $800,000 symbol of validation and success for creatives—as a gateway into discussions of achievement, self obsession, passion, and how they all fit under one umbrella: Financial Security. In opposition to today's popular Theater of Pain, the 60-minute COMEDY juxtaposes larger ideas of what exactly a "genius" is with Tarek's own successes, traumas, and feelings of accomplishment (or lack thereof). Exploring universal tensions felt by young artists as they attempt to figure out how to live, a meta-commentary on fiscal anxiety and the role self obsession plays in defining one's status as an artist begins to emerge. At its core, the work begs the absurd question, "why not give ME the Genius Grant?!"

Drawing on his experience with Physical Comedy & Clown Technique, this piece first came out of Tarek’s desire to create theater that felt at once like a party, a comedy show, a TED Talk, and—most importantly—a wicked good time. Tarek is proud to say that its workshop performance was received as exactly that, the audience of roughly 100 filling the theater with laughter, tears, and riotous applause throughout the show. Tarek is looking forward to sharing this work with many more audiences to come.

Below you will find the workshop’s video recording by Amira Williams and stills by Isaiah Hattix. Lighting, Sound, Projections, and Props were all designed by Tarek. Material subject to change as the work is further developed. The workshop performance was self directed, but Tarek is looking forward to outside direction in the future. If you’d like to help make future productions of Give Me The MacArthur Genius Grant happen, please reach out!