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A Thousand Splendid Suns

May 12 - June 17

Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage
Old Globe Theatre
Conrad Prebys Theatre Center

Photo Credits

The cast and musician and composer David Coulter in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Photo by Jim Cox.

A Thousand Splendid Suns


A Thousand Splendid Suns

"Radiant and real..a stunning stage production. Almost defies you not to be moved." —The San Diego Union-Tribune

"Emotionally stirring! Once the story is underway, it's hard not to be swept along. Theatergoers are rewarded not with a fairy tale ending but with a clarification of what redeems us as human beings." —Los Angeles Times

"Not to be missed! A production of immense emotional potency." —San Diego CityBeat

Southern California premiere
By Ursula Rani Sarma
Based on the book by Khaled Hosseini
Directed by Carey Perloff
In association with American Conservatory Theater

A sweeping and deeply moving theatrical adaptation of the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner). The epic story of three generations of Afghan women and their remarkable resilience, A Thousand Splendid Suns is set in the war-torn neighborhoods of 1990s Kabul. When battle upends her family, beautiful Laila must seek shelter, first in the home and then in the arms of her older neighbor. Soon she forges an extraordinary and unlikely friendship with Mariam, her new husband’s first wife. Summoning the strength to defy a tyrannical society, the two women seek hope and the promise of a better future. Adapted for the stage by acclaimed Irish–Indian playwright Ursula Rani Sarma, this breathtaking new production features music from renowned composer David Coulter. The Huffington Post says, “There’s no denying the play’s power as well as the beauty of its staging and its exquisite musical backdrop,” while the San Francisco Chronicle heralds its “epic splendor,” writing that it “dazzles with its opulence and humanity.”
Contains adult content.

Video: Barry Edelstein talks about A Thousand Splendid Suns

Production Sponsor
Debra Turner

Artist Sponsor for Director Carey Perloff
Sue and Edward "Duff" Sanderson

Artist Sponsor for the actor portraying "Laila"
Reneé and Bob Wailes

Running time: 2 hours, 35 minutes. There is one intermission.

Groups of 10 or more may purchase discounted tickets, and tickets may also be purchased as part of a money-saving season package.

Learn more about group discounts
Learn more about season package

Cast and Creative



Ursula Rani Sarma (Playwright) is an award-winning writer of Irish Indian descent. She has written plays for Abbey Theatre, the National Theatre of Ireland in Dublin, as well as American Conservatory Theater, Ambassador Theatre Group, Traverse Theatre, Paines Plough, and the BBC, amongst many other companies. Her recent productions include Joanne (Clean Break, Soho Theatre), Débris (Théâtre La Licorne), The Ripple Effect (Ambassador Theatre Group/London Cultural Olympiad), Yerma (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Riot (A.C.T. Young Conservatory/Theatre Royal Bath), The Dark Things (Traverse Theatre), and Birdsong (Abbey Theatre). Ms. Sarma has been writer-in-residence for Paines Plough, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and Royal National Theatre, among other companies. She is currently developing plays for Abbey Theatre, Traverse Theatre, and Djinn Theatre Company. For the screen, her work includes “Raw,” “Red Rock,” Anywhere but Here, and Judge Dee. She is currently adapting the book Henry’s Demons for BBC One and writing an original drama entitled Guardian for Channel 4.

Khaled Hosseini (Original Book) was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. In 1976, his family relocated to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then the Soviet invasion was underway, so the Hosseini family moved to San Jose, California. Mr. Hosseini went on to become a doctor, practicing medicine as an internist between 1996 and 2004. He is the author of three award-winning and internationally best-selling novels: The Kite Runner (2003), A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007), and And the Mountains Echoed (2013). In 2006, Mr. Hosseini was named a Goodwill Envoy to the United Nations Refugee Agency. After a trip to Afghanistan in this position, he was inspired to establish The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a not-for-profit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

Carey Perloff (Director) is celebrating her 25th season as Artistic Director of American Conservatory Theater, where she commissioned and developed this adaptation of A Thousand Splendid Suns. Known for innovative productions of classics and for championing new writing and new forms of theatre, she has directed classical plays from around the world, 10 plays by Tom Stoppard (including the American premieres of The Invention of Love and Indian Ink, also at Roundabout Theatre Company, and two productions of Arcadia), and many productions by favorite contemporary writers such as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, José Rivera, and Philip Kan Gotanda. Her other productions include Hecuba, Mary Stuart, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, The Tosca Café, The Voysey Inheritance, Scorched, and Underneath the Lintel. Ms. Perloff is also an award-winning playwright. Her recent play Kinship premiered at the Théâtre de Paris in 2014; Higher won the 2011 Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation Theatre Visions Fund Award; and Luminescence Dating premiered in New York at Ensemble Studio Theatre. Ms. Perloff’s book, Beautiful Chaos: A Life in the Theater (City Lights Foundation Books), was selected as San Francisco Public Library’s One City One Book selection for 2016. Before joining A.C.T., she was Artistic Director of Classic Stage Company in New York, where she directed the premiere of Ezra Pound’s Elektra, the American premiere of Pinter’s Mountain Language, and many classic works. Named a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettresby the French government, Ms. Perloff received a B.A. Phi Beta Kappa in Classics and Comparative Literature from Stanford University and was a Fulbright Fellow at Oxford.

American Conservatory Theater (Co-Producer), San Francisco’s Tony Award–winning not-for-profit theatre, nurtures live theatre through dynamic productions, intensive actor training, and community engagement. It embraces its responsibility to conserve, renew, and reinvent its rich theatrical traditions while exploring new artistic forms and communities. A.C.T. opened its first San Francisco season in 1967 and has since performed more than 350 productions to more than 7 million people. A.C.T.’s 50-year-old Conservatory features its master of fine arts actor training program, its Summer Training Congress that attracts students worldwide, and the San Francisco Semester, a study-abroad opportunity for undergraduates. Its other programs include the Young Conservatory (for students aged 8–19) and Studio A.C.T., theatre study for adults. A.C.T. also brings theatre-based arts education to 16,000 Bay Area students annually. With its increased presence in the Central Market neighborhood, marked by the renovation of The Strand Theater, A.C.T. plays a leadership role in securing the future of theatre for San Francisco and the nation.

Ken MacDonald (Scenic Design) has designed The Overcoat: A Musical Tailoring (Canadian Stage, Vancouver Opera, Tapestry Opera), The Barber of Seville and Macbeth (Pacific Opera Victoria), The Threepenny Opera, The Rake’s Progress, and Susannah (Vancouver Opera), A Thousand Splendid Suns (American Conservatory Theater, Grand Theatre, Theatre Calgary), Sovereignty and The Shoplifters (Arena Stage, Theatre Calgary), Engaged, Our Town, Sweet Charity, Arms and the Man, Our Betters, and The Doctor’s Dilemma (Shaw Festival Theatre), Wanderlust, Moby Dick, and The Trespassers (Stratford Festival), Parfumerie, Blithe Spirit, The Government Inspector, and ’night, Mother (Soulpepper Theatre Company), The Arsonists, The Overcoat, and Vigil (Canadian Stage), Sextet, The Amorous Adventures of Anatol, Marry Me a Little, Benevolence, and The Dishwashers (Tarragon Theatre), and The Waiting Room, Hamlet, and Art (Arts Club Theatre Company). Mr. MacDonald has received a Gemini Award for Outstanding Production Design for The Overcoat (CBC); two Dora Awards; a Betty Mitchell Award; and 17 Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards. kenandmorris.com.

Linda Cho (Costume Design) is thrilled to return to The Old Globe, where she most recently designed October Sky and The Comedy of Errors. This is her 15th show here since 2002. She maintains a highly successful career with opera and theatre companies in the United States and abroad. Among her successes in theatre have been theBroadway productions of Anastasia (Tony Award nomination), A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Tony Award), and The Velocity of Autumn. Ms. Cho’s work has also been seen Off Broadway and at numerous American regional theatres and opera companies. She will make her Metropolitan Opera debut this season with Samson et Dalila. She recently received the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for A Thousand Splendid Suns at American Conservatory Theater. She is also the proud recipient of the TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award and the Ruth Morley Design Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women, and she is on the Advisory Committee of the American Theatre Wing. Ms. Cho is an alumna of McGill University and holds a master of fine arts degree from Yale School of Drama. lindacho.com.

Robert Wierzel (Lighting Design) has worked with artists from diverse disciplines and backgrounds in opera, theatre, dance, museums, and contemporary music, on stages throughout the country and abroad. Mr. Wierzel’s theatre work has been seen on and Off Broadway, including Fela! (Tony Award nomination), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill starring Audra McDonald, David Copperfield: Dreams and Nightmares,and productions at New York Shakespeare Festival/The Public Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, Signature Theatre Company, Playwrights Horizons, Mostly Mozart Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Acting Company, and Lincoln Center Festival/American Songbook. He has collaborated for decades with choreographer and director Bill T. Jones and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. Mr. Wierzel is currently in pre-production on a new musical, A Walk on the Moon. He is on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a creative partner at Spark Design Collaborative.

Jake Rodriguez (Sound Design) is a sound designer and composer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. His recent credits include we, the invisibles (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Vietgone (American Conservatory Theater), An Octoroon (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), The Events (Shotgun Players), A Thousand Splendid Suns (A.C.T., Theatre Calgary, Grand Theatre), The Christians (Playwrights Horizons, Mark Taper Forum), Girlfriend (Kirk Douglas Theatre), and Mr. Burns, a post-electric play (A.C.T., Guthrie Theater). Mr. Rodriguez is the recipient of a 2004 Princess Grace Award.

David Coulter (Original Music) is an English-born multidisciplinary artist, musician, composer, director, and educator based in the Bay Area. Since the 1980s, he has directed shows, produced records, and played his musical saw and other assorted weird and less-weird instruments in studios, theatres, and stages and on recordings around the world with the likes of The Pogues, Tom Waits and Robert Wilson, Kronos Quartet, Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono, Hal Willner, and Gorillaz. Mr. Coulter curates and directs numerous multi-artist events. His credits include Monkey: Journey to the West (Gorillaz/Chen Shi-Zheng), Double Fantasy Live, Rain Dogs Revisited, Twisted Christmas, In Dreams: David Lynch Revisited, and An Anatomy Act. He was also associate musical director and multi-instrumentalist on The Black Rider: The Casting of the Magic Bullets (A.C.T., 2004). He is a visiting lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, and he has played the didgeridoo at the invitation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on a number of official occasions.

Stephen Buescher (Choreographer) is a movement director/choreographer, actor, director, and teaching artist. He has designed movement for A Thousand Splendid Suns, Monstress, The Orphan of Zhao, Stuck Elevator, Let There Be Love, and Underneath the Lintel (American Conservatory Theater), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Private Lives (Long Wharf Theatre), A Christmas Carol (Trinity Repertory Company), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare Santa Cruz), and Blues for an Alabama Sky (Lorraine Hansberry Theatre). Mr. Buescher is the Head of Movement in A.C.T.’s M.F.A. program. In the Conservatory he has directed The Taming of the Shrew, Black Orpheus, Romeo and Juliet, Galileo, The Island, The House of Bernarda Alba (which traveled to Moscow Art Theatre), Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!, Archangels Don’t Play Pinball, and Hotel Paradiso. He has taught physical theatre at Yale School of Drama, Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company, New York University, University of Connecticut, and University of Missouri–Kansas City. Mr. Buescher has performed nationally and internationally for over a decade as a company member with the physical-based company Dell’Arte International. He is a graduate of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre and California Institute of the Arts, and he is thrilled to be making his debut at The Old Globe.

Janet Foster, CSA (Casting) has cast for American Conservatory Theater for the past six years, including Hamlet, The Birthday Party, A Walk on the Moon, Indian Ink, The Orphan of Zhao, Maple and Vine, Endgame, Play, The Scottsboro Boys, The Normal Heart, A Christmas Carol, 4000 Miles, Dead Metaphor, Arcadia, and many more. Her Broadway credits include The Light in the Piazza (Artios Award nomination), Lennon, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Taking Sides (co-cast). She cast the Off Broadway productions of Lucky Guy, Lucy, Close Ties, Brundibar, True Love, Endpapers, The Dying Gaul, The Maiden’s Prayer, Dream True, The Trojan Women, and A Love Story. For Playwrights Horizons she cast Floyd Collins, The Monogamist, A Cheever Evening, Later Life, and many more. Ms. Foster’s credits include Intiman Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, A Contemporary Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Yale Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Old Globe, Baltimore Center Stage, Westport Country Playhouse, Two River Theater, and American Repertory Theater. Her television, film, and radio credits include “Cosby” (CBS), Tracey Takes on New York (HBO), The Deal by Lewis Black, Advice from a Caterpillar, “The Day That Lehman Died” (BBC World Services/Blackhawk Productions; Peabody, Sony, and Wincott Foundation Awards), and WNYC Tom Stoppard Radio Plays for 2010–2011.

Elisa Guthertz (Production Stage Manager) has been a Bay Area stage manager for over 25 years. Most recently she worked on Heisenberg, The Birthday Party, and Hamlet at American Conservatory Theater, and last season she staged managed A Thousand Splendid Suns at A.C.T. and Theatre Calgary. Her numerous other productions for A.C.T. include A Night with Janis Joplin, The Realistic Joneses, Monstress, Love and Information, Testament, Major Barbara, Underneath the Lintel, Arcadia, The Normal Heart, The Scottsboro Boys, Endgame, Play, Scorched, Clybourne Park, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Rainmaker, A Number, and Eve Ensler’s The Good Body, among others. She has also stage managed The Mystery of Irma Vep, Suddenly Last Summer, Rhinoceros, Big Love, Collected Stories, and Cloud Tectonics (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), The Good Body (Broadway), Big Love (Brooklyn Academy of Music), and The Vagina Monologues (Alcazar Theatre).

Michael Paller
Jonathan Rider
Fight Consultant


Additional Events

A Conversation with Congresswoman Susan A. Davis: Reflecting on her experience in Afghanistan
Sunday, June 17 at 6:00 p.m.

Hattox Hall

Please join Congresswoman Susan Davis for her reflections on working with the women of Afghanistan, the challenges they face, and the future development of Afghanistan. FREE and open to the public, no reservations required.

Celebrating Sister Cities: San Diego and Jalalabad
Monday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m.

Hattox Hall

This free evening discussion will focus on the work, and the fruits, of the San Diego Jalalabad Sister Cities Foundation. The evening will culminate with a Skype video conference call with a group of Afghan women participating in a program in which they learn English and technological skills. Globe audience members will have the chance to hear from them about their daily lives, ask questions, and participate in conversation. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Afghanistan Then and Now
Friday, May 18 at 6:30 p.m.

Hattox Hall

Afghan Cultural Consultant Humaira Ghilzai, who worked on the original production of A Thousand Splendid Suns with author Khaled Hosseini and playwright Ursula Rani Sarma, will discuss the history of Afghanistan and the current situation of Afghan women. She will also talk about the development and creation of the play from Hosseini’s original novel. FREE; no reservations necessary.


Vicki and Carl Zeiger Insights Seminars

This series provides Old Globe patrons with an opportunity to closely connect with productions both onstage and backstage. A panel selected from the artistic company of each show (playwrights, actors, directors, designers, and/or technicians) engages patrons in an informal and illuminating presentation of ideas and insights to enhance the theatre going experience. Each Insights Seminar takes place 90 minutes before curtain time on the Tuesday after performances begin, and includes an informal reception 30 minutes before the start. FREE; no reservations necessary. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.


Post-Show Forums

Join us after the show for an informal and enlightening question-and-answer session with cast members. Get the "inside story" on creating a character and putting together a professional production. Post-show forums are scheduled after select Tuesday and Wednesday evening performances. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Subject Matters

Explore the ideas and issues raised by a production through brief, illuminating post-show discussions with local experts, such as scientists, artists, historians and scholars. Subject Matters will ignite discussion, bring the play's concerns into sharp focus, and encourage you to think beyond the stage! Subject Matters discussions follow select Saturday matinee performances. FREE; no reservations necessary.

Saturday, May 19, 2018, following the 2:00 p.m. matinee


“Celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.” —San Diego Story

"Emotionally stirring! Once the story is underway, it's hard not to be swept along. Theatergoers are rewarded not with a fairy tale ending but with a clarification of what redeems us as human beings." —Los Angeles Times

“A deeply moving tale of love and courage.” —San Diego Jewish World

“David Coulter's original music evokes authentic atmosphere and tension. That he makes all the sounds himself—playing a saw, guitar, various drums, and "found" instruments—evokes admiration.” —San Diego Reader

“An important, moving and thoughtful tale of family, friendship. The cast is an all-star team of immense talent.” —The Coronado Times