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Kabul's war ridden history and strength of women is front and center in the world premiere of the powerful A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS. Local Fremont author and PhD, Dr Khaled Hosseini,captured our hearts and souls in his best seller “The Kite Runner” his own story later turned into a successful 2006 Film. In his second work “SUNS” he has returned to the war-ravaged streets of Kabul, a dark epic narrative fueled by secrets and scars that Afghanistan hides well.

This new play is adapted for the stage by Ursula Rani Sarma and impressively directed by Carey Perloff. She brings a tremendous cast to the Geary stage to have the Sun rise and set on this epic story of strength and tragedy. SUN’S is a joint produced staging with Theatre Calgary. Khaled Hosseini’s sweeping story spans 30 years of women and war in Afghanistan and it has been powerfully transformed into a simple story of friendship between two women. Ursula Rani Sarma has streamlined the epic novel into its simplest form with such a powerful book, this two and half hour epic staging really makes its point.Ursula Rani Sarma has streamlined the epic into its simplest form and yet with such a powerful book this two and half hour epic really makes its point. Fifteen year old Laila (Nadine Malouf) loses her parents in a shell blast in their home. Laila is pulled from the rubble of the bombing by Rasheed (Haysam Kadri), an older man who quickly saves her life after she has lost her parents.

After she recovers Rasheed asked her to become his second wife. His first wife, the abused and stedfast Mariam (Kate Rigg), is distant to the young new wife but quickly lets her guard down when the two wives ally against Rasheed’s abuse. Their powerful bond becomes their only hope to deal with his control. As Mariam is haunted by the ghost of her mother (Denmo Ibrahim), who is important to the arc of the story. Laila’s daughter Aziza (Nikita Tewani) is a smart young girl who learns to hold her tongue and bow her head, or risk a drastic beating.

A pregnant Laila (Nadine Malouf) is embraced by her husband Rasheed (Haysam Kadri) in the world-premiere theatrical adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s, A Thousand Splendid Suns, adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma and directed by Carey Perloff.

A live musical score composed and played by David Coulter (Kronos Quartet) brings at time, tears; yet story on stage yet keeps the rough transitions so quiet at moments of sheer emotions. The second act is more of the road tale of the two women and Perloff’s direction keeps the story moving and the music becomes the reward to the tragedy we see on stage. The control of men vs women in the culture we see in this story is unsettling, yet provides subtext to the dark side of this beautifully told story.

The set design by Ken Macdonald is elegant and the use of the floating sun and moon almost give the setting a surreal feel. Director Perloff's dramatic use of the set is magnificent and the movement and fight scenes by her production team is terrific. Robert Wierzel’s superb lighting design brings the smoke and bombing a haunting feel to Jake Rodriguez’s sound design. Linda Cho’s authentic costumes add greatly to the artistic feel to this fine production The power in witnessing this pain, this moving explosive play does not mask the horror of the story. Malouf and Rigg are both fully realized, beautiful and chilling as their characters as the story closes.

SUNS brings to life the message of Hosseini’s novel of friendship, love, and bond - It is a recognition to the Afghan women who showed the immense endurance of women to survive through tremendous suffering to keep those they love alive. The story is still relevant to today's issues and mirrors what is happening in the world's daily headlines. “A Thousand Splendid Suns” will capture your heart and soul, not a dry eye in the crowd, as the story comes to a close as we have witnessed heroism and friendship in one of the best plays of the new season. A MUST SEE.

American Conservatory Theatre presents


Adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma from the novel by Khaled Hosseini

Original Music by David Coulter

Directed by Carey Perloff

Must close Feb. 26

Geary Theater, 415 Geary St., San Francisco

Running time: 2 hours, 40 minutes, one intermission

Tickets: $25-$125; 415-749-2228,

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Photo's by Kevin Berne

On Jan 17, 2017 A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff sat down with author Khaled Hosseini and adapter Ursula Rani Sarma at A.C.T.'s Geary Theater to discuss transforming the bestselling novel for the stage. Listen to their full conversation:

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