Afsheen Misaghi and Atra Asdou. Premiere Stages 2023 production of Selling Kabul. Photo by Mike Peters.
Premiere Stages at Kean is now running the New Jersey Premiere of Selling Kabul. Written by Sylvia Khoury, the play runs through September 24 at the Bauer Boucher Theatre Center on the campus of Kean University, Union, NJ. With direction by Taylor Reynolds, the show is intense and thought provoking and it is one that will stay with you for a long time. If you are a person who values family, you may feel sadness as you watch what is going on to people and how it is splitting the citizens of Kabul apart. But this is one that should not be missed.
A big round of applause goes out to Premiere Stages as they provide several things which will help you gain even more from the experience of seeing the play. Their approach to including information and materials to theater goers helps add to the relevancy this play brings.
First, See the Display Boards in the Lobby
I suggest stopping first in the Boucher Theatre Lobby before you go in to see the show. There you will find beautifully constructed display boards which will give important background about the subject matter of the play. Here is one example with a very current quote (Aug. 2023) from the Associated Press about how many applicants are still waiting in the special immigrants visa program.
There are several other boards which have good information to read before you see the show.
Next, go in to See Selling Kabul
Basically, Selling Kabul is about people trying to survive in an environment they did not choose to be in. The characters and events in Selling Kabul are fictional. However, the major elements of the story are rooted in truth. This story takes place in 2013 when the U.S. troops had withdrawn. However, there was a promise made to those Afghan citizens who worked with the U.S. that they would be taken care of. Some were. However, others, like Taroon, have not and they are still waiting.
Taroon (Zaven Ovian) lives in fear for his life. The Taliban are hunting for him as they consider him to be an enemy of their regime. His crime: he worked as an interpreter for the United States military in Afghanistan. While he is waiting for proper paper and arrangements to be made, he hides in his sister, Afya (Atra Asdou), and brother-in-law Jawid’s (Afsheen Misaghi) apartment. He must stay hidden from the windows and cannot even play the large screen television set for fear the light will be seen out the window. Meanwhile, Afiya and Jawid made the difficult decision to work with the Taliban by supplying them with uniforms.
A neighbor down the hall, Leyla (Anat Cogan) keeps dropping in unexpectedly. Even though they are friends, the family has kept Taroon hidden from her.
Zaven Ovian, who plays Taroon, Photo by Mike Peters.
The play opens on the night that Taroon’s wife has given birth to their son. She is in the hospital and he is determined to get to see her. Thus develops the major conflict that eventually leads to his leaving Kabul for an uncertain future.
More Information Provides Another Aspect of Relevance
After seeing this play, you may wonder what you can do to help out. Premiere Stages at Kean provides an impressive list of sources to help answer that question. So take time to look inside the program/playbill provided. On page 6 you will find some resources that will help you learn about ways you can help people around the world as they seek refuge.
Post Show Community Connections
Audience members can engage more deeply with this deeply moving play by attending the free Community Connections following select matinee performances. Two have already been held but one remains after the Saturday, September 23 matinee. This presentation will have the cast of Selling Kabul as the speakers. Previous post-show presentations featured Director Taylor Reynolds and representatives from non-profit organizations that assist Afghan refugees in New Jersey.
Tickets and More Information about Selling Kabul
This is a must see show for anyone who recognizes the need to gain more understanding of tense situations in our world. It might not be a good selection for very young children, but other than that, this is a relevant play for everyone.
Selling Kabul runs September 7 – September 24 in the Bauer Boucher Theatre Center. This is located on the Kean University main campus, Union, NJ.
Performances take place Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
Reasonable rates for tickets are available through calling the Box Office at 908-737-7469 or going to the Premiere Stages website at premierestagesatkean.com.