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Khaled Hosseini’s  ‘The Kite Runner’ Adapted to Stage by San Jose State University Professor Enthralls and Entertains

Khaled Hosseini’s  ‘The Kite Runner’ Adapted to Stage by San Jose State University Professor Enthralls and Entertains

  • The play strives to reflect cultural accuracy, showcasing the beauty of Afghan customs including the kite tournament, the nikah ceremony and the national dance — Attan.”

Broadway on Tour version of “The Kite Runner,” a play with music, adapted by San Jose State University theater and film professor Mathew Spangler was showcased at the  Hammer Theatre in San Jose from April 3 through April 7. The play is on its North American tour.

Enacte Arts collaborated with the Hammer Theatre to bring the production to the Bay Area.

Based on Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 novel by the same title, the play was workshopped in San Jose, where it made its debut  in 2009. Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” became a bestseller across the globe and has since been published in 70 countries, selling 31.5 million copies in 60 languages.

The touching story of childhood friendship, betrayal, family bonds, abandonment, guilt and atonement in the backdrop of tragic and turbulent  events involving the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet invasion; the exodus of Afghani refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban is beautifully presented in the show that ran for over two hours.

Minimalist set decorations and clever use of sound and light kept the story moving at a good pace. “In our production, we have strived for authenticity, showcasing the beauty of Afghan customs such as the kite tournament, the nikah ceremony and the national dance — Attan. Every detail has been meticulously crafted to reflect cultural accuracy,” says Humaira Ghilzai, Cultural Advisor and Dialect Coach.

Ramzi Khalaf brilliantly plays Amir, a young boy from a wealthy neighborhood of Kabul and the main narrator of the story. 

Shahzb Zahid Hussain plays Hassan — Amir’s servant and friend whom Amir fails to protect from bullying and the bully’s heinous sexual assault. Amir’s guilt ends their friendship. Later, Amir comes to know that Hassan was not just his friend but also his half brother. 

“The Kite Runner” is a multi-themed story including one of a father-son relationship with universal themes of a son’s need for love and recognition and living up to his Baba’s expectations and tempering those with personal choices and goals. The gradual evolution of the father-son relationship is beautifully portrayed in the production. 

The second half of the play centers on Amir’s move to the U.S. with his father and hardships of immigrant life in a new land including finding safety in similarity with other Afghan diaspora. 

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The story is also about guilt and redemption. The act of atonement for the main protagonist from his youthful transgression by rescuing Hassan’s son, two decades later from Afghanistan despite several insurmountable bureaucratic hardships is the tour de force of the story.

The Bay Area has a special love for “The Kite Runner” as the novelist, playwright and the tabla artist (Salar Nader), all call it home.

“At EnActe Arts, our mission is to embrace Eastern and Western forms of performance to create a new culture of global storytelling using local talent. We put the South Asian context into global narratives.” said Vinita Sud Belani, Artistic Director of Enacte Arts.

Shalini Kathuria Narang is a freelance journalist and a software professional. She is also a poet and her poems have been published in several anthologies including “Starry Nights: Poetry of Diaspora in Silicon Valley” and “Pixie Dust and All Things Magical.” She is a monthly contributor to Masticadores USA and has been published by Spillwords Press and San Antonio Press. She is originally from New Delhi and currently resides in the Bay Area with her husband and daughters.

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