Amir Arison describes making his Broadway debut as the culmination of a childhood dream. After delivering two lines in his second grade play, his mother declared, "you have talent," so Arison joined the drama club and the rest was history.
The performer made a name for himself in the Off-Broadway community, starring in The Muscles in Our Toes and Aftermath, before "falling in love with television" and finding fame on screen as Aram Mojtabai in NBC’s The Blacklist.
Now, Arison has found his way back to the stage and is appearing on Broadway for the first time—an experience which makes him "feel like a kid again"—in Matthew Spangler’s stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel The Kite Runner.
Despite having spent the last three decades aspiring to be on the Broadway stage, Arison felt reluctant to accept his offer to play the character of Amir. "It was hard to get behind the role because he makes a series of cowardly decisions that felt anathema to my soul. But of course, therein lies the challenge. My hesitancy toward the role was also the thing that drew me to it."
With much of the story’s action taking place in Afghanistan in the 1970s during a time of civil unrest, the story is just as relevant today as it was in 2003, when the novel debuted. "Privilege, racism, war, immigration, and survival exists in the background of the play while we explore these characters." Arison notes that the work’s themes of invasion, refuge, and personal responsibility continue to ring true. He says, "I'm happy to play as a reminder of the immigrant experience and the human toll of war. We are not insular, we are one world."
Preparation for The Kite Runner has been the most intense Arison has experienced, mentally and physically. "It is a two hour and 45-minute play, and my character never leaves the stage." Beyond this challenge of endurance, the actor also feels the pressure of acting "in service" to the story and his duty to communicate its complexity to the audience. "There is something sacred that happens between an audience and the artist when you are in the theatre. I do not take that lightly. I have to trust the preparation and fall forward into this experience for better and worse because it is not about me."
Pressures aside, the performer can turn to Hosseini’s novel for comfort. "I feel like I have this gift because the novel is narrated by the character I'm playing. I have this manuscript of subtext, thoughts, ideas, and connections. It is like I have a treasure trove of material." As a fan of the source material, Arison praises Spangler’s adaption. "Spangler has managed to distill this novel into an evening of two hours and 45 minutes. The full essence of the novel comes across. I do not know how he did it, but he made it active and alive."