Arena Stage Announces Cast and Creative for A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces the company for A Thousand Splendid Suns, adapted for the stage by Ursula Rani Sarma and based on the 2007 New York Times bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini (Kite Runner). Set in 1992 in war-torn Afghanistan, this gripping story centers around a friendship that develops between two Afghan women following a tragedy. While facing insurmountable odds of a brutal and oppressive way of life, the two form an unlikely bond in a heart-rending fight for survival. Directed by Carey Perloff, A Thousand Splendid Suns runs January 17 - March 1, 2020 in the Kreeger Theater.
A Thousand Splendid Suns made its world premiere at American Conservatory Theater in 2017 under the direction of Perloff.
"Bringing Khaled Hosseini's gorgeous novel to life has been a remarkable journey. What I was most passionate about was telling a story of female friendship over many decades, so that's the spine of the play," explains Perloff. "While Afghanistan has been in the headlines for decades as a war zone and place of conflict, it is revelatory to see the country's recent history from the eyes of women and girls, told in a poetic way through movement and music as well as text. It's hugely meaningful to us to be able to bring this play to Washington, D.C., at this moment in history. Arena Stage was the theater I grew up with as a child in D.C. and I am honored to be coming back with a project so close to my heart."
"I have long admired this beautiful production led by Carey Perloff and this is a powerful story. This production has rippled across the country and Canada and resonates with audiences everywhere," shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. "We look forward to bringing it to Arena Stage, a city filled with the most informed audience in the country."
Making their Arena Stage debuts and reprising their roles from the 2017 original production at ACT include Haysam Kadri (Theatre Calgary's The Crucible) as Rasheed, Jason Kapoor (San Francisco Playhouse's Born Yesterday) as Wakil and Nikita Tewani (Milwaukee Repertory's The Who & The What) as Aziza.
Also making their Arena debuts are Hend Ayoub (Broadway's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) as Mariam, Sarah Corey (Theater J's Love Sick) as Ensemble, Lanna Joffrey (The Old Globe's They Promised Her the Moon) as Fariba/Nana, Joseph Kamal (Broadway's The Band's Visit) as Babi/Zaman/Interrogator, Mirian Katrib (Tailsman Theatre's Me and You) as Laila, Ravi Mampara (Ford's A Christmas Carol) as Zalmai, Yousof Sultani (Drury Lane's And Then There Were None) as Ensemble and Antonie Yared (Seattle Repertory's Indecent) as Tariq/Driver.
In addition to Perloff, the creative team includes Set Designer Ken MacDonald, Costume Designer Linda Cho, Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel, Sound Designer Jake Rodriguez, Original Choreography by Stephen Buescher, Original Music by David Coulter, Associate Director Haysam Kadri, Original Fight Consultation by Jonathan Rider, Fight Consultation Lewis Shaw, Vocal Coach Anita Maynard-Losh, Casting Director Victor Vazquez, CSA, Stage Managers Dani Bae and Christi B. Spann and Assistant Stage Manager Marne Anderson.
Additional casting will be announced at a later date.
Ursula Rani Sarma (Playwright) is an award-winning writer of Irish Indian descent. She has written plays for Abbey Theatre, The National Theatre of Ireland in Dublin, as well as American Conservatory Theater, Ambassador Theatre Group, Traverse Theatre, Paines Plough, and the BBC, amongst many other companies. Her recent productions include Joanne (Clean Break, Soho Theatre), Débris (Théâtre La Licorne), The Ripple Effect (Ambassador Theatre Group/London Cultural Olympiad), Yerma (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Riot (A.C.T. Young Conservatory/Theatre Royal Bath), The Dark Things (Traverse Theatre), and Birdsong (Abbey Theatre). Ms. Sarma has been writer-in-residence for Paines Plough, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and Royal National Theatre, among other companies. She is currently developing plays for Abbey Theatre, Traverse Theatre, and Djinn Theatre Company. For the screen, her work includes "Raw," "Red Rock," Anywhere but Here, and Judge Dee. She is currently adapting the book Henry's Demons for BBC One and writing an original drama entitled Guardian for Channel 4.
Khaled Hosseini (Original Book) was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. In 1976, his family relocated to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then the Soviet invasion was underway, so the Hosseini family moved to San Jose, California. Mr. Hosseini went on to become a doctor, practicing medicine as an internist between 1996 and 2004. He is the author of three award-winning and internationally best-selling novels: The Kite Runner (2003), A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) and And the Mountains Echoed (2013). In 2006, Mr. Hosseini was named a Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency. After a trip to Afghanistan in this position, he was inspired to establish The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a not-for-profit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
Carey Perloff (Director) recently completed an acclaimed 25-year tenure as artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, an artistic journey documented in her award-winning 2015 book Beautiful Chaos: A Life in the Theater (City Lights Press). Known for innovative productions of classical plays and for championing new voices and new forms of theater, Perloff is celebrated for her decades-long collaborations with Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter, and for ambitious multi-disciplinary commissions such as A Thousand Splendid Suns (which has been seen throughout the West Coast and across Canada) and Tosca Café. Recent work includes Ghosts with Uma Thurman at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Private Lives at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Colm Toibin's Pale Sister at The Gate Theatre. As a playwright, Perloff's work includes The Fit (SF Playhouse), Kinship (Theatre de Paris starring Isabelle Adjani and Williamstown Theater Festival starring Cynthia Nixon), Luminescence Dating (EST and Magic Theatre), Higher (A.C.T. and LJP's DNA Festival) and her new play Bastiano, written on a 2018 Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship. Perloff is a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the French government, holds an honorary doctorate from University of San Francisco and an honorary M.F.A. from A.C.T. She is thrilled to bring work to Arena Stage where she saw her first theater as a child.
Cast Biographies (in alphabetical order)
Hend Ayoub (Mariam) is excited to be making her Arena Stage debut. Her credits include: Broadway's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo with Robin Williams, as well as its previous run at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum; Kiss (Yale Repertory Theatre); Veils (world premiere, Portland Stage; Barrington Stage). Television credits include: Homeland, Orange Is the New Black, The Looming Tower, Madam Secretary, Royal Pains, Feed the Beast, Comedy Central's The Watch List and recurring roles on Transparent and Damages. For film, she co-starred in the Emmy Award-winning film Death of a President and the award-winning film Private.
Sarah Corey (Ensemble) is making her Arena Stage debut. Most recently she played The Grocer's Wife and Mrs. Beouf in Rhinoceros at Tantrum Theater. Favorite NYC credits include: Love and Real Estate (59e59) and A Letter to Harvey Milk (Acorn Theatre). In D.C. she has been seen as Barbara DeMarco in Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center; Anne/Ana/Aminah in Oil at Olney Theatre Center; and in Love Sick at Theater J. Other favorite regionals include: Anisah in the world premiere of In the Book of at Alabama Shakespeare Festival; Rose Gellman in Caroline, or Change at Speakeasy Stage; Kate in Lippa's Wild Party at New Repertory Theatre (IRNE award); and Kate Jerome in both Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound at Oldcastle Theatre Company. AB Princeton University. www.sarah-corey.com.
Lanna Joffrey (Fariba/Nana) is thrilled to make her Arena Stage debut reprising her role in A Thousand Splendid Suns (The Old Globe, A.C.T. and Seattle Rep.). Based in London, Lanna recently performed The Eyes of the Night (Cervantes Theatre); The Time of Our Lies chronicling the life of Howard Zinn (Park Theatre); and They Promised Her the Moon honoring the life of Jerrie Cobb (Old Globe). Lanna's verbatim play of women's war stories, Valiant, has travelled the U.K. and U.S. - going to Edinburgh Fringe, Theatre503, Women and War Festival, NY Fringe, InterAct Theatre and others. Lanna earned awards for performances at NYFringe (Valiant), IRNE in Boston (Nine Parts of Desire) and Denver Ovation (1001). Her spoken word and writing have been featured online and in print. www.lannajoffrey.com.
Haysam Kadri (Rasheed/Associate Director/Fight Captain) has appeared in A Thousand Splendid Suns (Seattle Rep, The Old Globe, Theatre Calgary, A.C.T.); Enron, To Kill a Mockingbird, Much Ado about Nothing, The Crucible and A Christmas Carol (Theatre Calgary); The Hollow, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Twelve Angry Men, Dr. Jeykll & Mr. Hyde and Black Coffee (Vertigo Theatre); Richard III, Macbeth, Othello, William Shakespeare's Land of the Dead and The Winter's Tale (The Shakespeare Company); and The Last Wife, Cockroach, The Motherfu**er with the Hat and Shakespeare's Dog (Alberta Theatre Projects). His film and TV credits include: The Revenant and Hell on Wheels. Kadri is artistic producer of The Shakespeare Company and program director of Theatre Calgary's Shakespeare by the Bow.
Joseph Kamal (Babi/Zaman/Interrogator) will be making his third appearance with Arena, previously seen in Anthems: Culture Clash and Love in Afghanistan. Recently, he was in the Broadway company of the Tony Award-winning musical The Bands Visit. He has appeared in world premieres by Tony Kushner, Ethan Coen, Rajiv Joseph, Charles Mee, Lee Breuer, Betty Shamieh, Herbert Siguenza and Richard Montoya of Culture Clash, and Charles Randolph-Wright, as well as in West Coast premieres and the national tour of plays by Theresa Rebeck and Lynn Nottage. A long time ago he was a company member of The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. Recent television credits include: Murphy Brown, Animal Kingdom, Madame Secretary and Seal Team, among others. He has done a lot of voiceover work including the video game Call of Duty. @JosephKamal8
Jason Kapoor (Wakil) is thrilled to be making his D.C. debut at Arena Stage. He has been seen in the Off-Broadway premiere of Ideation by Aaron Loeb and in all of the American Productions of A Thousand Splendid Suns, as well as the Canadian Premiere at Theatre Calgary. He received his B.A. from San Jose State University and an M.A. from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Mirian Katrib (Laila) most recently appeared as Laila at The Grand Theatre (London) and Seattle Repertoire Company's production of A Thousand Splendid Suns. Other recent theater credits include: The Prisoner of Tehran (Theatre Passe Muraille) and Me and You (Talisman Theatre). Mirian's TV credits include: Condor, American Gods and many other commercial credits. Mirian is also an internationally touring musician and singer/songwriter. Instagram @miriankatrib
Ravi Mampara (Zalamai) performed most recently in A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theater. He has performed at the Theater Lab's Annual Cabaret Benefit and is an alumnus of Camp Arena Stage where he has been an enthusiastic camper for three summers. He is 10 years old and in fifth grade at Washington Latin. He loves to play soccer and piano, sing, dance and perform. He is an avid musical theater fan aspiring to perform in plays and musicals, to compose music and to choreograph dance. Ravi is thrilled to have the opportunity to join the cast of A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Yousof Sultani (Ensemble) is thrilled to be making his Arena Stage debut! He was most recently seen on stage in And Then There Were None at Drury Lane in Chicago. Other credits include: Photograph 51 (Court Theatre); Heartland (InterAct Theatre); Miss Bennet: Christmas At Pemberley and Guards At The Taj (Milwaukee Repertory Theater); The Doppelgänger: An International Farce and The Fundamentals (Steppenwolf Theater); United Flight 232 (House Theatre); Disappearing Number and Inana (TimeLine Theatre); Othello (Chicago Shakespeare Theater); and The Hundred Flowers Project (Silk Road Rising). Film credits include: Glass House. Television credits include: The Brave (NBC); Empire (FOX); and Chicago Fire (NBC). Yousof received his B.F.A. in performance from Virginia Commonwealth University. He will be dedicating his performance to his father, Wahid Sultani.
Nikita Tewani (Aziza) is thrilled to be reprising the role of Aziza in her Arena Stage debut. She is part of the original cast that world-premiere at A.C.T. and toured the West-Coast. Off-Broadway, Nikita played Nasrin in The Fall at Soho Playhouse. Regionally, she played Mahwish in The Who and The What at Milwaukee Repertory Theater. She will be seen as a recurring role on an upcoming Netflix Series in 2020. She has co-starred on TV Shows including The Affair (Showtime) and Divorce (HBO) and completed a number of independent films. Most recently, she played the lead role in the upcoming feature film I'll Meet You There. Nikita received her B.F.A. in drama at NYU Tisch. @NikitaTewani imdb.com/NikitaTewani.
Antoine Yared (Tariq/Driver), born in Lebanon and raised in Montreal, has performed in theaters across the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, as well as performing in A Thousand Splendid Suns last year in San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. He most recently appeared in Indecent at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, A Christmas Carol at Soulpepper in Toronto and The Last Wife at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. He also appeared in Groundling Theatre's production of LEAR in Toronto. Other career highlights include Romeo in Romeo and Juliet at the Stratford Festival where he spent five seasons appearing in productions like The Madwoman of Chaillot, John Gabriel Borkman, Macbeth, As You Like It, King John, The Alchemist, Mother Courage and Her Children, The Merchant of Venice and Pericles.
For full company biographies, please visit arenastage.org/tickets/1920-season/a-thousand-splendid-suns.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is generously sponsored by Beth Newburger Schwartz and Michele and Allan Berman.
Connect with our shows beyond the performance at a post-show conversation with artists and staff on January 28 following the 7:30 p.m. performance, January 29 following the 12 p.m. performance, February 4 following the 12 p.m. performance, February 12 following the 12 p.m. performance and February 27 following the 8 p.m. performance.