★★★★ “Fascinating … funny and disturbing in all the right places.” —Marin IJ

“Fiendishly good … a rather ingenious piece of theater.” — The Washington Post

At morning’s first light, a new edifice representing the soaring power of the empire will be unveiled: the glorious Taj Mahal. But for the two hapless guards assigned to protect the palace, morning will set the wheels in motion for a ghoulishly funny existential crisis that will shake their faith in God, the empire and each other. Guards at the Taj is a dark comedy about two average men swept up by the beauty, carnage and injustice surrounding one of the most famous wonders of the world.

Award-winning playwright Rajiv Joseph is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo and The North Pool. Mr. Joseph received the Steinberg Playwright Award in 2013, the Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award in 2015, as well as multiple Lucille Lortel awards and the 2016 Obie Award for Best Play for Guards at the Taj.


PLEASE NOTE: Seats in the front row are partial view, and patrons may experience wetness from the use of water on stage. The MTC Box Office has ponchos available to borrow should any front row patrons wish to wear one to avoid getting wet. Due to the use of red food coloring in the water, the wearing of ponchos is highly recommended to avoid staining your clothes! 

Front row seats have also been discounted to $25 in both center and side sections. 

WARNING: This production features simulated violence, theatrical haze, and brief nudity.

Questions? Contact the friendly MTC Box Office team: boxoffice@marintheatre.org



Performance Schedule

Evenings

Tue - Sun 7:30pm

Matinees 

Sun (Preview) Apr 30, 4:00pm
Thu (Perspectives) May 11, 1:00pm
Sat, May 6 & 20, 2:00pm
Sun May 7, 14 & 21, 2:00pm

Ticket Prices

Performance Center
seating
Side
seating
Previews (Apr 27 - 30) $37 $37
Opening Night (May 2) $60 $55
Sat Eve $60 $55
Tue*, Wed, Thu, Fri & Sun Eve $49 $44
Matinees $49 $44
Best Deal (all shows, limited availability) n/a $25

* Excludes Opening Night.

Prices subject to change. 

Phone orders subject to a $10 per order fee; online orders subject to a $3 per order fee

Disabled seating is currently only available through the MTC Box Office (415.388.5208 or in person). We apologize for any inconvenience.

Discounts

GROUPS – Bring eight or more people to receive a $7 discount on tickets. Click here or call 415.388.5208.
SENIORS (65+) – $4 off any performances
MILITARY – $6 off all performances. Learn more
UNDER 30 – $22, all performances
EDUCATOR – $12, all performances (limit 2). Must teach at a Marin County School. Contact the Education Dept. to request.
TEENS – $10, all performances

Discounts and special rates available only by calling or visiting the Box Office in person: (415) 388-5208
Promo Codes distributed for online redemption subject to availability. 
Only ONE (1) Promo Code will be valid per order. 
Promo Codes do not apply to Best Deal ($25) tickets.

MTC Engaged Special Events

AFTER WORDS

AFTER WORDS

Post-Show

Post-show question and answer sessions, led by a member of our artistic staff, immediately following most performances (except on Opening and Closing Nights and Saturdays).

Window on the Work - Guards at the Taj

Window on the Work - Guards at the Taj

Thurs., April 13 | 7:30 PM

Window on the Works series focuses on our production; design, casting and rehearsal process. Mill Valley Public Library, 375 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley

Wednesday Pre-Show Talk

Wednesday Pre-Show Talk

7:00 PM

Pre-show talk before every Wednesday evening performance.

Sitter Saturday

Sitter Saturday

Sat., May 6 | 2:00 PM

Free onsite childcare provided by UrbanSitter during the 2nd Saturday matinee.

Perspectives Matinee

Perspectives Matinee

Thurs., May 11 | 12:00 PM

Topical lecture one hour prior to the 1:00 PM performance.

MTC After Hours

MTC After Hours

Sat., May 13 | 9:00 PM

After the performance join us at the MTC bar for music, drink specials, and conversation with the cast!

Cast

  • Rushi Kota*

    Rushi Kota*

    Babur

    Rushi Kota (Babur) hails from Queens, NY, before traveling to Cambridge, MA, and finally landing in La La Land. Recent screen appearances include Famous in Love (Freeform), The Divorce Party and The One I Wrote for You (Showtime), Extant with Halle Berry (CBS), as Dr. Curtis in General Hospital, and as a Hipster Male with Acne in Proactiv commercials. Theatrical credits include The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Capital Stage, Best Warm Beer in BK and Ghost World at The Lost Knight Theater, The Boston Abolitionists Project, Hansel & Gretel, Great Catherine, The Shewing of Blanco Posnet, and Imaginary Invalid at American Repertory Theater. Mr. Kota received his M.F.A. in Acting from American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater School at Harvard University. He is incredibly honored and blessed to be in this production of the Guards at the Taj at Marin Theatre Company.


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  • Jason Kapoor*

    Jason Kapoor*

    Humayun

    Jason Kapoor (Humayun) previously appeared at Marin Theatre Company in The Invisible Hand. Born and raised in San Jose, he has appeared in both the world premiere and the recent off-Broadway productions of Ideation by Aaron Loeb. Mr. Kapoor was recently seen in American Conservatory Theater’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, and, prior to that, in California Shakespeare Theatre’s Life is a Dream and A.C.T.’s Indian Ink. He has also appeared at San Jose Repertory Theater in The Dresser and on tour as Lennie in Of Mice and Men. Mr. Kapoor earned his B.A. in Theatre Arts from San Jose State University and his M.A. in Classical Acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

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Creative Team

  • ​Rajiv Joseph

    ​Rajiv Joseph

    Playwright

    Rajiv Joseph was a 2010 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his Broadway play, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which also won the National Endowment for the Arts’ grant for Outstanding New American Play. Mr. Joseph’s New York productions include Guards at the Taj (Atlantic Theater Company, 2015), The North Pool (Vineyard Theater, 2013), Gruesome Playground Injuries (Second Stage Theatre, 2011), Animals Out of Paper (Second Stage Theatre, 2008), The Leopard and the Fox (Alter Ego, 2007), Huck & Holden (Cherry Lane Theatre, 2006), and All This Intimacy (Second Stage Theatre, 2006). Other recent productions include Mr. Wolf (South Coast Repertory, 2015), The Lake Effect (Crossroads Theatre, New Jersey, 2013) and Monster at the Door (Alley Theatre, Houston, 2011). Mr. Joseph wrote for the Showtime series Nurse Jackie for seasons 3 and 4 and was the co-screenwriter of the film Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner. He is the book-writer and co-lyricist for the musical, Fly, which premiered at the Dallas Theater Center in 2013. Finally, Mr. Joseph and Jack Perla’s opera, Shalimar the Clown, adapted from the novel by Salman Rushdie, premiered at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis during the summer of 2016. Mr. Joseph received his B.A. in Creative Writing from Miami University and his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He served for three years in the Peace Corps in Senegal and now lives in Brooklyn.

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  • Jasson Minadakis^

    Jasson Minadakis^

    Director

    Jasson Minadakis (artistic director) is in his 11th season as artistic director of Marin Theatre Company, where he has directed August: Osage County, The Invisible Hand, Anne Boleyn, The Convert, The Whale, Failure: A Love Story, the world premiere of Lasso of Truth, The Whipping Man (San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle Awards for Best Production and Best Acting Ensemble), Waiting for Godot, Othello: the Moor of Venice, The Glass Menagerie, Edward Albee’s Tiny Alice, the world premiere of Libby Appel’s adaptation of Chekhov’s Seagull, Happy Now?, Equivocation (SFBATCC Award, Best Director), the world premiere of Sunlight, Lydia, The Seafarer, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, A Streetcar Named Desire, said Saïd, Love Song, and The Subject Tonight is Love. As artistic director of Actor’s Express Theatre Company, he directed The Pillowman; Bug; The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer; Echoes of Another Man; Killer Joe; Burn This; The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?; Blue/Orange; and Bel Canto. As producing artistic director of Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival, he directed Jesus Hopped the ’A’ Train, Chagrin Falls (2002 Cincinnati Entertainment Award for Best Production), and numerous others, including 19 productions of Shakespeare. Regional credits include The Whipping Man at Virginia Stage Company, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Hamlet at Georgia Shakespeare, Copenhagen at Playhouse on the Square (2003 Ostrander Theatre Award for Best Dramatic Production), and Bedroom Farce at Wayside Theatre.

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  • Annie Smart+

    Scenic Designer


    Annie Smart (scenic designer) is originally from London, where she designed sets and costumes for Joint Stock Theatre Group, the National Theatre, and the Royal Court Theatre, among many others. She was previously at Marin Theatre Company with the world premiere of Lasso of Truth. She recently designed At the Vanishing Point for Actors Theatre of Louisville. In the U.S.A., Ms. Smart has designed for many major theatres, including The Public Theater, Arena Stage, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Guthrie Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, and Long Wharf Theatre. Now based in the Bay Area, her show designs include California Shakespeare Theater’s Blithe Spirit ; Candida ; Othello ; The Tempest; Man and Superman; An Ideal Husband; Private Lives; Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven; Pygmalion; and Lady Windermere’s Fan; as well as American Conservatory Theater’s A Doll’s House, Night and Day, The Threepenny Opera; and Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Big Love; Concerning Strange Devices; Fêtes de la Nuit; Heartbreak House; In the Next Room, or the vibrator play; The Mystery of Irma Vep; Passing Strange; Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup; Suddenly Last Summer; Taking Over; Three Sisters; Tiny Kushner; and To the Lighthouse. Ms. Smart currently teaches costume and set design at the University of California, Berkeley.

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  • Mike Post

    Mike Post

    Lighting Designer


    Mike Post (lighting designer) is happy to be designing his first major show in the Bay Area. He has been working in theatre for over 25 years, primarily as a lighting designer and technician, as well as a production manager. Mr. Post’s lighting design credits include Idols of the King, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, and Rocket City at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Odyssey, As You Like It, and Metamorphoses at Georgia Shakespeare, where he was also the production manager; Some Men at Actor’s Express; The 13th of Paris at the Horizon Theatre; The Guys and Silent Sky at Theatrical Outfit; and Les Miserables and The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown at the Aurora Theatre in Georgia. 

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  • Fumiko Bielefeldt+

    Fumiko Bielefeldt+

    Costume Designer

    Fumiko Bielefeldt (costume designer) has designed costumes for MTC’s productions of The Oldest Boy; The Convert; The Beauty Queen of Leenane; Othello, the Moor of Venice; Edward Albee’s Tiny Alice; Equivocation; What the Butler Saw; Lovers & Executioners; Frozen ; Displaced; Fugitive Kind; Indiscretions; and Candida. Other credits include The Soldier’s Tale and Miss Julie at Aurora Theatre Company; Rags, Daddy Long legs, Cyrano, Emma, Fallen Angels, Sweeney Todd, Silent Sky, The Little Women, Being Earnest, The Secret Garden, 33 Variations, Sense and Sensibility, and Light in the Piazza at TheatreWorks; The Understudy at San Jose Rep; Evie’s Waltz at Magic Theatre; and Emma for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Her designs have also appeared at American Conservatory Theater, California Shakespeare Theater, Theatre of Yugen and Kansas City Repertory Theatre. In Japan, she has designed for Tokyo Theatre of Children and Tokyo Shitamachi Festival. Ms. Bielefeldt has received many awards, including Barbara Bladen Porter, San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle, Dean Goodman Choice, Back Stage West Garland and Drama-Logue Awards.


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  • Chris Houston

    Chris Houston

    Sound Designer

    Chris Houston (composer & sound designer) is a pianist, composer, and sound designer. He has composed music and/or designed sound for over 30 productions at Marin Theatre Company, including The Invisible Hand; The Oldest Boy; The Convert; The Whale; Failure: A Love Story; August Wilson’s Fences; Jacob Marley’s A Christmas Carol; The Whipping Man; Waiting for Godot; It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play; Topdog/Underdog; Othello, the Moor of Venice; The Glass Menagerie; the world premiere of Bellwether; Seven Guitars; and In the Red and Brown Water. Locally, his designs and compositions have been featured at American Conservatory Theater, Aurora Theatre Company, SF Playhouse, Center REP, Magic Theatre, and the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.

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* Denotes member of Actors Equity Association
+ Member, United Scenic Artists
^ Member, Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

Reviews

  • Humor, philosophy and gore in MTC’s ‘Guards at the Taj’

    It’s 1648 in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal has just been completed, commissioned by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to be the most beautiful thing ever created, and no one may glimpse it until morning. Two guards stand watch at the gate in the wee hours before dawn in stony silence—or at least that’s what they’re supposed to be doing. In fact they can’t stop talking for a minute, much as one of them keeps trying to make the other one knock it off and be still. 

    That’s the opening of “Guards at the Taj,” the new play by Rajiv Joseph making its Bay Area premiere at Marin Theatre Company. This is Joseph’s first play at MTC, but he’s already a popular playwright in local theaters. He won the Glickman Award for best play to premiere in the Bay Area in 2011 for “The North Pool” at TheatreWorks, which later produced his play “The Lake Effect” as well. San Francisco Playhouse has staged his “Animals Out of Paper” and “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” and his plays have popped up at various other companies around the region. “Guards” itself, which premiered in New York in 2015, played Sacramento’s Capital Stage less than a month ago.

    It’s a terribly funny play that takes a gruesome turn early on and keeps on throwing out disturbing twists. The comical pair of guards bouncing ideas off each other and squabbling in solitude invites comparisons to Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” among other works, and certainly there are echoes here and there. But it’s a fascinating narrative in its own right that combines historical tidbits with amusing flights of philosophical fancy while remaining deeply rooted in the friendship between the two guards. 

    Jason Kapoor, previously seen at MTC in “The Invisible Hand,” is the serious and low-key Humayun, who just wants to do good work in hopes that someday they might be assigned something other than the lousy jobs that nobody wants to do. Rushi Kota’s impulsive, happy-go-lucky Babur, on the other hand, constantly chatters about things he could be executed for saying if anybody heard him. 
    As much as Humayun tries to keep Babur in line, he can’t help but get sucked into the conversation, whether it’s gossip about the construction of the Taj Mahal or musing about cleverly prophetic inventions they’ve dreamed up. They soon get a ghastly assignment that anyone particularly steeped in Taj Mahal lore might be able to guess, and nothing is quite the same after that.

    MTC artistic director Jasson Minadakis gives the play a well-crafted staging that’s funny and disturbing in all the right places. Annie Smart’s set of an imposing arched doorway surrounded by stars gives a strong sense of being a small part of something much bigger than themselves. Mike Post’s lighting captures the all-important sunrise and sense of wonder that goes along with it, accentuated by the calling birds and swelling music of Chris Houston’s sound design.
    Even through we know, because it’s a two-person show, that the guards aren’t going to have a run-in with anybody else, an acute awareness of the grim consequences of in any way displeasing the emperor is always hanging over them, and there’s more than a little gore involved to underscore that unease. Still, what really comes out in the story is a sense of wonder, an appreciation of beauty and curiosity about how things work and what might be possible. Such musings are far from encouraged by the powers that be, but they’re what fill the guards’ relationship — and the play — with life.


    — Sam Hurwitt, Marin IJ Read full review
  • Royal 'Taj' 

    There are works of art that are exciting and captivating to experience, but which quickly lose their initial spark of pleasure, diminishing in brightness the more you think of them. Guards at the Taj, by Rajiv Joseph (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo), does the exact opposite. It leaves one a bit stunned and baffled, then gradually begins to reveal its own weird wisdom and audacious genius in the hours and days after.

    That's the effect that director Jasson Minadakis' bizarre and beautiful new production at Marin Theatre Company had on me, anyway. There will surely be those who have a very different reaction to Joseph's uncomfortably funny, heartbreakingly horrifying, Monty Python–tinged retelling of a certain gruesome ancient folktale about the famous Taj Mahal.

    In other words, it's not for everybody. In fact, Guards is as polarizing a piece of stagecraft as I've seen in years.

    But for those who, like me, hunger for something different and who don't mind a few hundred gallons of fake blood, then MTC's twisty assault on its viewers' hearts, heads and souls could easily become one of the most memorable and important theatrical experiences of 2017.

    There is not much more I can say without spoiling Joseph's carefully crafted storytelling. So if you're already inclined to check the play out, please stop reading and go buy your tickets now. For the rest, allow me to reveal these few details.

    The Taj Mahal, built in in India in the mid-1600s, is widely considered the most beautiful palace ever built. In Joseph's inspired takeoff on a (probably) fictional myth, a pair of lowly guards—played brilliantly by Jason Kapoor and Rushi Kota—must stand watch outside the Taj during its construction. The ruling shah has decreed that none may look upon it before completion, on pain of death, and that no other structure shall ever surpass its beauty. In fact, he has devised a brutal plan to assure that none of its builders will ever attempt its equal.

    Then things get really messy.

    What follows is underscored by a brilliant verbal give and take between our two hapless heroes, delivered with modern, f-bomb-dropping, Cheech-and-Chong-ish parlance that's as refreshingly funny as it is achingly endearing. Guards is a challenging, off-putting and amazing theatrical fable, one that you won't, and shouldn't, soon forget.

    — David Templeton, North Bay Bohemian Read full review
  • Blood-soaked Legend Comes to Life in ‘Guards at the Taj’

    If you see one play this year, it should be Guards at the Taj. Its gruesome theatricality parallels the Mughal Empire’s reign of staggering artistry living hand-in-hand with excessive violence. Completed in 1648, the Taj Mahal stood in regal glory, sparking the legend that Shah Jahan ordered such a thing of beauty should never be built again and required the hands chopped off of the 20,000 workers and artisans, ensuring its rival could not be created. It is highly unlikely such an event actually took place, but it is a recurring motif in folklore found around the globe, and likely the local manifestation of that theme, according to resident dramaturg Laura A. Brueckner. The story concept’s massive scale could become unwieldy, and in an early draft the play was filled with characters. Playwright Rajiv Joseph realized the centrality was represented in its least grandiose characters—the guards. The resulting two-hander play Guards at the Taj takes ordinary people and sets them in a world beyond their control, forcing them to make impossible decisions and live with the consequences.

    While there are lofty moments debating the philosophy of beauty and play of power structures, at its heart the play is about friendship. Humayun (Jason Kapoor) believes that if he obeys the rules, his life will get better, despite the horror of living in between. Childhood friend Babur (Rushi Kota) is playful and emotion driven, leading him to feel the situation acutely, whether it is cheerily cracking jokes while standing guard, or wading through a blood covered set, traumatized by the experience. Their interactions are acutely humanizing moments; Humayun’s gentle kindness, silently washing his friend’s face is tragically beautiful.

    Both actors are magnificent in this piece, from subtle eye twitches becoming comedic gold to numb horror when faced with a set drenched in blood. This is a gory play, with around 100 gallons of stage blood in various forms used in each performance. To practice, director Jasson Minadakis used puzzle pieces dumped onto the studio floor, and the actors practiced working through the dialog while moving them around, putting puzzles together, or flipping pieces over. This is no quaint Victorian fairy tale, it embodies the raw violence of ancient mythology before Disney got hold of it, when villains and heroes alike gushed blood and body parts.

    Although the subject matter is extremely violent, most of the play is two men hanging out casually discussing whatever comes to mind, which happens to be quite profound. Joseph creates a conversational atmosphere, whether that is lighthearted ribbing about getting to guard the harem to desperately trying to deal with a dangerous situation by talking about something else to keep the mind occupied and not thinking about what is going on. Sound designer Chris Houston adds texture to the setting, layering recorded Indian bird songs in outdoor scenes to the point where they almost become another character, and ominous echoing and dripping blood when necessary. Annie Smart’s deceptively simplistic set design is effective and filled with concealed traps that become relevant as the story progresses.

    This play has an intrinsic shock value, but also the intimacy of two friends trying to survive in a world that doesn’t care about individuals. Through creativity of spirit they manage to keep their humanity in tact until the monarch requires something so heinous that it crumbles around them. As Humayun laments, “what is caring going to get me?”

    — Alexa Chipman, Imagination Lane Reviews Read full review

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