A Thousand Splendid Suns
by Ursula Rani Sarma
directed by Carey Perloff
based on the book by Khaled Hosseini
Originally produced at American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco, CA
About the Premiere Production:
Synopsis: A.C.T. is thrilled to announce the world-premiere theatrical adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns. The epic story of three generations of Afghan women and their remarkable resilience, A Thousand Splendid Suns is set amidst the war-torn streets of modern-day Kabul. Beautiful Laila, unmarried and pregnant, is forced to marry her older neighbor when her family and home are torn apart. After she forges an extraordinary and unlikely friendship with Mariam, her husband’s first wife, the two women find the hope and strength to raise a new generation. This is a stunning new production featuring live music from renowned composer and saw player David Coulter. “Hosseini’s writing makes our hearts ache, our stomachs clench, and our emotions reel” (USA Today).
Artistic Statement: A.C.T. has always been passionate about global theater, about new forms and stories that open our imaginations to alternative ways of thinking about the human experience. Five years ago, we produced Wajdi Mouawad’s Scorched, a Middle Eastern play with enormous resonance for our time, which introduced us to the extraordinary novelist Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed). Hosseini was deeply impressed with A.C.T.’s commitment to community-building and cultural exploration during the process of staging Scorched, and he granted us the rights to adapt his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns. This book tells the story of an unlikely and complex friendship between two women of very different backgrounds against the landscape of Kabul from the 1970s to 2001. I was particularly eager to create a theater piece based on this stunning novel because the story of three generations of Afghan women struggling to carry their stories forward gives a different face to the Middle Eastern and Central Asian crises we are confronted with on a daily basis in the press. It seems imperative for us, as American theater artists at this moment, to give Middle Eastern and Central Asian voices the opportunity to be heard on our national stages.
Grant Statement: A Thousand Splendid Suns is an epic project for A.C.T., involving a large cast (including two children), an original score performed live, a complex design, and a great deal of research. Together with our Afghan consultant, Humaira Ghilzai, the production process will include extensive dialogue with the vast Muslim, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian community in the Bay Area. A story of this magnitude will require an extensive rehearsal process to incorporate the movement, the music, and the elaborate design elements. The grant from the Edgerton Foundation will enable us to add an extra week of rehearsal, which will expand our ability to bring all these elements together while continuing to shape the script into a complete theatrical event.
Set Designer: Ken MacDonald
Costume Designer: Linda Cho
Lighting Designer: Robert Wierzel
Sound Designer: Jake Rodriguez
Original Music: David Coulter