Opened March 1994
Theatre: Manhattan Theatre Club; Director: Mary Zimmerman; Production Stage Manager: Diane Divita; Set Designer: Karen TenEyck; Costume Designer: Tom Broecker; Lighting Designer: Brian MacDevitt; Production Manager: Michael Moody; Line Producer: Tracy Brigden
Cast: Jenny Bacon, Ellen M. Bethea, Enrico Colantoni, Christopher Donahue; Sara Erde, Julia Gibson, Kathryn Lee, Jesse L. Martin, Ramon Melindez Moses, Bruce Norris, Denis O'Hare, Faran Tahir
Director's Notes: "The collection of approximately 300 tales known in the West as 'The Arabian Nights' or 'The 1001 Nights' has evolved through eleven centuries of Indian, Arabic, and Persian story telling. Although most of the stories are set in Baghdad and Basrah, many modern residents of the Middle East are unable to read them because 'The Arabian Nights' has been widely banned, as its considerable eroticism and subversive humor are offensive to Islamic fundamentalists. In the West, meanwhile, the stories have been consigned to the realm of childhood. Both in its length and the range of its content, this encyclopedia of human experience, told night after night by a young bride named Scheherezade to a vicious king called Shahryar, is an ancient proof of the depth and power of imagination, and the literally life-preserving force of narrative. Our adaptation includes only a tiny fraction of 'The Arabian Nights', a work about which there is an old Arabic saying: that no one can read it completely with dying of pleasure."
Production Notes: "What has made it possible for the Persians to remain themselves over two and a half millennia, what has made it possible for us to remain ourselves in spite of so many wars, invasions and occupations, is our spiritual, not our material, strength--our poetry, and not out technology; our religion, and not our factories. What have we given the world? We have given poetry, the miniature, and carpets. As you can see, these are all useless things from the productive viewpoint. But it is through such things that we have expressed our true selves. What we have given the world has not made life any easier, only adorned it--if such a distinction makes any sense. To us a carpet, for example, is a vital necessity. You spread a carpet on a wretched, parched desert, lie down on it, and feel you are lying in a green meadow. Yes, our carpets remind us of meadows in flower. You see before you flowers, you see a garden, a pool, a fountain. Peacocks are sauntering among the shrubs. And carpets are things that last--a good carpet will retain its color for centuries. In this way, living in a bare, monotonous desert, you seem to be living in an eternal garden from which neither color nor freshness ever fades. Then you can continue imagining the fragrance of the garden, you can listen to the murmur of the stream and the song of the birds. And then you feel whole, you feel eminent, you are near paradise, you are a poet."
--Mr. Ferdousi, Carpet Merchant
quoted by Ryszard Kapuscinski, "Shah of Shahs"
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