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A Thousand Splendid Suns has transformed Arena Stage in to Kabul. With its story of a deep and complex female friendship, this is a play that wants to suck you in. It wants you to forget you’re in D.C. in 2020. To understand how they’ve created  this immersive world, We went behind the scenes with Costume Designer Linda Cho to check out her amazing design work and chat about the indepth research and hard work she puts into each costume.

What was your costume research like for this play?

I found researching for this play particularly rewarding. Aside from Kalid Husseini’s books, which I read and loved when they first appeared on shelves years ago, I must admit was not at all familiar with this part of the world. So I immersed myself in photographs, films and documentaries. I so enjoyed traveling through the countryside, cities and homes in Afghanistan through the eyes and stories of others.

What costume / look are you most proud of?

I think Laila and Miriam’s dresses were the most challenging because each woman has several replicas to evoke the passage of time and reflect their hardships. It is also a careful process of selecting fabrics that respectfully evoke the culture we are representing.

What was the hardest piece to source?

Burkas are not meant to be easy to move around in.  We had difficulty finding Burkas that behave in away that make the movements and blocking for our theatrical purposes possible.  We ended up remaking some of them to make them easier for the actors to navigate.

Do you think it’s easier or harder to work on the costumes for more modern plays? 

It’s a different challenge, one has more opinions to fold into my design, as more collaborators are familiar with contemporary clothes.

How do you know when you’re done creating a costume? Does the perfect costume exist?

It’s funny, when I see a show I designed previously, it’s sometimes hard to look at because we change as people and as artists as we grow, so the choices we made previously, may be the same choices we would make today.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is at Arena Stage through March 1, 2020.

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