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

UNIVERSITY PARK — 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, Oct. 8.

"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 short story that Hosseini later expanded into the novel.

Tickets for the Center for the Performing Arts presentation are $24 for an adult, $10 for a University Park student and $15 for a person 18 and younger. Buy tickets online at http://cpa.psu.edu or by phone at 814-863-0255. Outside the local calling area, dial 800-ARTS-TIX. Tickets are also available at four State College locations: Eisenhower Auditorium (weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Penn State Downtown Theatre Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), HUB-Robeson Center Information Desk (weekdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and Bryce Jordan Center (weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.). A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

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

Hosseini’s novels have touched the lives of millions. "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 one-hour 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 teaching artist shares context about the show and its setting. After the presentation, Wadia participates in a 15-minute discussion with interested audience members. Artistic Viewpoints will not be offered before the show.

The Kite Runner includes mature themes. Parental discretion is advised.

Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown sponsor the presentation.

"The Kite Runner" presentation is part of Penn State Reads, a new collaborative initiative for first-year University Park students. The common reading program is designed to provide a shared experience among new students, encourage intellectual engagement within and beyond the classroom, stimulate critical thinking and foster a deeper connection to Penn State’s mission and core values.

The public is welcome to participate in two free intergenerational book discussions about "The Kite Runner" novel. The two-hour discussions, at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15 and 22, are scheduled for the State College Area High School North Building. Each discussion is a collaboration among State High English students, the Penn State Intergenerational Program (rooted in Penn State Extension), the Penn State College of Health and Human Development’s Center for Healthy Aging, and the Center for the Performing Arts. State High culinary students will provide refreshments. Contact Medora Ebersole at mde13@psu.edu or 814-863-6752, by Friday, Oct. 4, to register, get directions, learn about ways to obtain the book and receive a handout on intergenerational conversations about war, conflict, reconciliation and peace.

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Last Updated September 10, 2013