'The Kite Runner' finds new life as one-man stage show Oct. 8 at Schwab Auditorium

Posted by John Mark Rafacz on October 6, 2013 

Sorab Wadia portrays eight characters in the one-actor adaptation of "The Kite Runner" Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Penn State's Schwab Auditorium.


A stage adaptation of The Kite Runner, the international bestseller by physician-turned-author Khaled Hosseini, brings a poignant tale of friendship and betrayal to Penn State's Schwab Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Kite Runner concerns two boys—Amir, a privileged Pashtun, and Hassan, a Hazara servant—who live in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital city. The American Place Theatre's adaptation features a single actor, Sorab Wadia, and focuses on the original story that Hosseini later expanded into the novel.

Tickets are still available for the Oct. 8 presentation. Note that The Kite Runner includes mature themes, so parental discretion is advised.

Listen to a Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State interview with Wadia.

Hosseini's novels have touched the lives of millions around the world. The Kite Runner (2003), adapted into an Oscar-nominated film in 2007, and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) are unforgettably emotional stories about some of the worst—and best—aspects of the human condition. And the Mountains Echoed, the author's third novel, was released earlier this year.

Wadia, a native of India who lives in New York City, portrays eight characters in the 50-minute verbatim performance gleaned from the first third of the book. It's a heartbreaking chronicle of life in a society where severe class division colors even the closest of relationships.

"I change character very quickly," Wadia said. "Even when I started, that was my goal—to have a trigger to put me in the mood of the next person immediately, because there's no time to mess around."

Amir, the protagonist, is in some ways more than one character. During the course of the play, the actor must portray him at three separate ages.

"All those three guys are one person, but three very different guys," Wadia said.

Adapted and directed by Wynn Handman and using original Afghani music, the play is part of The American Place Theatre's acclaimed Literature to Life series.

"For many years we have brought the one-man, verbatim theater adaptation work of American Place Theatre, but strictly for our school audiences," said Amy Dupain Vashaw, audience and program development director for the Center for the Performing Arts. "This year we decided to opt for a public performance, as well as a school show, because we are presenting The Kite Runner. That's a book in our community that's been so resonate with so many book groups and others that we wanted to give everyone the chance to see this incredible … adaptation."

At the outset of the performance, a master teaching artist spends 15 minutes sharing context about the show and its setting. After the presentation, Wadia and the teaching artist participate in a 15-minute discussion with audience members. Artistic Viewpoints is not offered before the show.


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