Playwrights Horizons Has Announced the Cast and Creative Team for Sylvia Khoury's SELLING KABUL
Playwrights Horizons (Artistic Director Tim Sanford, Managing Director Leslie Marcus) is continuing its 2019/20 season with Sylvia Khoury's Selling Kabul, a thriller of shattering precision, tracking the human cost of immigration policy and the overlooked legacy of America's longest, and ongoing, war. Directed by Tyne Rafaeli and produced in association with Williamstown Theatre Festival, Khoury's play makes its New York premiere at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons (416 W 42nd St) beginning March 27, 2020.
Selling Kabul centers the relationship between a brother and sister as it explores the tolls of American imperialism from within a single family's apartment. Taroon once served as an interpreter for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Now the Americans-and their promises of safety-have withdrawn, and he spends his days in hiding, a target of the increasingly powerful Taliban. On the eve of his son's birth, Taroon must remain in his sister's apartment, or risk his life to see his child. Keeping his whereabouts secret, his sister Afiya navigates the ethically murky territory of survival, as one structure's false promises leave her family vulnerable to another's antagonism.
Over the course of its development, since its very first reading, Marjan Neshat (Off-Broadway: The Public's Julius Caesar, The Seagull at CSC; TV: Quantico) and Babak Tafti (Playwrights: The Profane; Off-Broadway: The Public's Othello; TV: "Succession") have played the sibling roles of Afiya and Taroon; they return for the new staging at Playwrights Horizons. Francis Benhamou (Playwrights: The Profane, TV: "Inside Amy Schumer") will play Leyla, Afiya's neighbor, and Mattico David (Noura at Playwrights and Shakespeare Theatre Company) will play Afiya's husband, Jawid. The creative team includes Arnulfo Maldonado (scenic design), Montana Levi Blanco (costume design), Jen Schriever (lighting design), Daniel Kluger (sound design), and Brett Anders (production stage manager).
Following Rafaeli's first staging of Selling Kabul at Williamstown Theatre Festival, she and Khoury recently collaborated on the playwright's "bleak...striking...insidiously sharp" (The New York Times) Power Strip at LCT3. They were drawn together and invigorated by a shared aim to bring global stories-those that lose their full humanity in their mediated reduction to symbols and statistics-into the intimate, immediate, and complicatedly human realm of theater.
Selling Kabul emerged from conversations Khoury had had with lawyers working for the International Refugee Assistance Project, which in part provides advocacy for interpreters who aided American forces, and are left in danger under the broken promise of U.S. visas-an ever-more-common betrayal as the current administration overwhelmingly refuses (and vilifies) refugees.
Khoury explains, "Within the stories I heard were the details typically excluded in the news-the navigation of everyday personal dynamics against the horrific backdrops global powers have created. The play comes down to being trapped in a small place with your siblings-with people that are home for you, but in a circumstance that has all the opposite ingredients of a comfortable evening with your family. What's happening outside the home creates extreme confines. I was interested in the ways we can relate to these characters, their love and annoyance, and then how we can't-how we reach a point where we realize our lives are more different than we can imagine. Tyne and I connect over a committment to pursuing the truth and humanity at the center of really complex political situations, and hope the audience leaves considering what our moral obligation is, as Americans, to be engaged with the real impact our foreign policy has on lives across the globe."
Rafaeli says, "What I so respond to in Sylvia's work is the human face she gives to the consequences of Western imperialism. We are in a room with these characters as their lives fall apart because of some Americans sitting around a table very far away dictating global events. What we don't usually see is how it affects civilians, not just on a physical level but also a spiritual one. In this apartment compressing into a tiny prison, the domestic space is a way to understand the political space through emotion."
Selling Kabul runs March 27 through May 10, 2020, and officially opens on April 20, 2020. For a full schedule, visit phnyc.org.