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The Kite Runner transfers to Wyndham's Theatre

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

MATTHEW Spangler’s stage adaptation of The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini’s award-winning tale of friendship, betrayal and redemption, is transfering to Wyndham’s Theatre for a strictly limited 12-week season – from January 10 (previews from December 21) to March 11, 2017.

Afghanistan is a divided country on the verge of war and two childhood friends are about to be torn apart. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and the skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite flying tournament. But neither Hassan or Amir can foresee the terrible incident which will shatter their lives forever.

Khaled Hosseini’s international bestselling novel and film, is a powerful story of friendship spanning cultures and continents, following one man’s journey to find redemption.

Khaled Hosseini said: “The Kite Runner is a story that appeals to very powerful, universal human emotions, it transcends its cultural setting, its geographic parameters, and speaks about universal human experiences – brotherhood, being a father, being a son, friendship, the desire to be a good person and be able to look at yourself in a mirror with a sense of self-respect.”

The cast is headed by Ben Turner, best known for playing Staff Nurse Jay Faldren for three years in BBC1’s Casualty. He said: “There’s something almost Shakespearian about this story, the things it deals with are so big. It’s betrayal, revenge, redemption. We all make mistakes, we can all look back and think I shouldn’t have done that. This story embodies that. On stage, the story can’t help but suck an audience in. You can hear a pin drop and weeping in the audience. People are obviously deeply affected by it.”

The Kite Runner, published in 2003, was Khaled Hosseini’s first novel. It became an instant bestseller across the globe and has since been published in 70 countries, selling 31.5 million copies in 60 languages.

The book tells the story of Amir, a young boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, whose closest friend is Hassan, his father’s young Hazara servant. The tale is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of Afghanistan’s monarchy through the Soviet invasion, the exodus of refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the rise of the Taliban regime. It charts a friendship that spans cultures and continents and follows one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption.

In 2013, Nottingham Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse pulled off an extraordinary theatrical coup and secured the rights to stage the European premiere of The Kite Runner. The subsequent production toured the UK and was hailed as a theatrical tour de force by both the public and critics.

With a script completed before the release of the feature film adaptation, the play was first produced in San Francisco in 2009 by The San Jose Repertory, and won five San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle Awards.

Director Giles Croft said: “Following its huge success in Nottingham, at the Brighton Festival and across the UK, I’m delighted that The Kite Runner is transferring to the West End. The power and relevance of this timeless story doesn’t diminish. I am looking forward to seeing the reaction of the audience to this production in London.”

Gemma Bodinetz, Artistic Director of the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse said: “After delighting and moving our audiences in equal measure we feel sure that The Kite Runner will be a remarkable addition to the West End and are very proud to be associated with it.”

Ben Turner (Amir) led the company for the UK tour of The Kite Runner. His other stage roles include Michael Grandage’s productions of Richard II and Caligula (Donmar Warehouse), Maiden Voices from the Uprising (Royal Court Theatre) and Awake and Sing (Almeida Theatre). He was King Louis in the Dr Who episode The Girl in the Fireplace, and was in the films 300: Rise of an Empire and Adulthood.

The Kite Runner is directed by Giles Croft and produced in the West End by Martin Dodd for UK Productions and Derek Nicol & Paul Walden for Flying Entertainment. It was originally produced by Nottingham Playhouse and Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.

Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1965. His father was a diplomat in the Afghan Foreign Ministry and his mother taught Farsi and history at a high school in Kabul. In 1976, the Foreign Ministry relocated the Hosseini family to Paris. They were ready to return to Kabul in 1980, but by then their homeland had witnessed a bloody communist coup and the invasion of the Soviet Army. The Hosseinis sought and were granted political asylum in the United States, and in September 1980 moved to San Jose, California.

Hosseini graduated from high school in 1984 and enrolled at Santa Clara University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1988. The following year he entered the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, where he earned a medical degree in 1993. He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai medical center in Los Angeles and was a practicing internist between 1996 and 2004.

In March 2001, while practicing medicine, Hosseini began writing his first novel, The Kite Runner. Published by Bloomsbury in 2003, that debut went on to become an international bestseller and beloved classic, sold in at least 70 countries and spending more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

In May 2007, his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, remaining in that spot for 15 weeks and nearly an entire year on the bestseller list. Together, the two books have sold more than 10 million copies in the United States and more than 38 million copies worldwide.

The Kite Runner was adapted into a graphic novel of the same name in 2011. Hosseini’s much-awaited third novel, And the Mountains Echoed, was published in 2013.

In 2006, Hosseini was named a Goodwill Envoy to UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. Inspired by a trip he made to Afghanistan with the UNHCR, he later established The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, which provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. He lives in Northern California.

To book tickets call the box office on 0844 482 5120 or the Flying Music Box Office on 0844 249 1000 or visit www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/ or thekiterunnerplay.com/.

Also at Wyndham’s Theatre: Harold Pinter’s No Man’s Land with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen (September 8 to December 17, 2016).