When you’re setting a play in a country you’ve never visited, it’s certainly a good idea to run the piece by people with more intimate knowledge of the place. This was the task dramatist Charles Randolph-Wright dutifully performed in getting his new work, “Love in Afghanistan,” up on its feet.
“We just got Janet’s notes,” he was informed one day at Arena Stage, where the drama, about an American rapper who falls in love with an Afghan interpreter, begins its world-premiere run Friday. The Janet in question was Janet Napolitano, who, you might be aware, recently left her post as secretary of Homeland Security and who, it is reliably reported, is both an avid theatergoer and an acquaintance of Arena’s artistic director, Molly Smith.
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The odd thing is, both places made him equally happy.
“I went from the Four Seasons Hotel in Geneva to the Holiday Inn Express in Rock Hill, and one world was as exciting as the other,” he says. “It was beyond my expectation how genuine our relationships were after all these years. Being with classmates reminded me what I’d had to do to get to work with (Stevie).”
That’s Randolph-Wright: A ceaseless traveler who gets his mail in New York City, has directed across North America – including “Motown: The Musical,” whose national tour comes to Charlotte’s Belk Theater Tuesday – yet hangs onto the South Carolina house his father built by hand more than half a century ago.