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Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns to have Birmingham première

Published: 29 March 2019

An adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, the story of three generations of women discovering strength in unity, will have its European première at Birmingham REP before a national tour.

Set in 1992 in Afghanistan which has been ravaged by war, A Thousand Splendid Suns features an orphaned Laila left alone in an increasingly threatening world. Her older neighbour Rasheed is quick to open his home and takes Laila as his second wife.

Rasheed's first wife Mariam has no choice but to accept her younger, pregnant rival. As the Taliban takes over, life for all of them becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear, and the two women find themselves unlikely allies.

Roxana Silbert directs her final show as artistic director of Birmingham REP. She said, “in A Thousand Splendid Suns, we’re given a rare glimpse into 30 years of contemporary Afghan history.

“Thanks to Ursula Rani Sarma's emotionally stirring adaptation, audiences will be able to bear witness to the extraordinary story of two radiant women who struggle to survive the terrifying political situation they find themselves in. I can't wait to bring this inspiring and enlightening story to the stage.”

Playwright Ursula Rani Sarma added, “this play is about the immense strength and endurance of women and how they can survive tremendous suffering to keep those they love alive.

“It’s also about how even in the darkest of times and places love can grow and sustain the human spirit beyond all pain and hardship. It's about friendship and loyalty, courage and selflessness, grief and violence.

“What the play has to say about love, endurance and survival is very much worth listening to for a contemporary audience. There is beauty and strength at the heart of A Thousand Splendid Suns and I feel so proud to be part of its evolution from novel to stage.”

A Thousand Splendid Suns is the sequel to The Kite Runner, adapted by Matthew Spangler, a Nottingham Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse production which had two UK tours as well as a West End run.

The cast features Waleed Akhtar, Pal Aron, Sujaya Dasgupta, Munir Khairdin, Naveed Khan, Mollie Lambert, Shala Nyx, Liza Zahra and Amina Zia.

Set and costume designs are by Ana Inés Jabares-Pita, lighting design is by Simon Bond and composition by Mahmood Kamen. Sound design and co-composition are by Dave Price. Ben Hart is magic consultant.

A Thousand Splendid Suns runs at Birmingham REP from Thursday 2 until Saturday 18 May. It is a co-production with Northern Stage where it plays from 30 May until 15 June and Nuffield Southampton Theatres where it runs from 25 June until 6 July. The show will also tour to Hackney Empire from 22 until 25 May.

Steve Orme