Arabian Nights: Fall Play Review

It’s an emotional time for drama students at Washington. In February, the trusty Husky Theatre will be demolished and we will start the long process of rebuilding. Director and drama teacher David Yick-Koppel chose the final play to tell more than just a simple story for a few nights. He wanted to remind the audience of the theater’s roots: we are all storytellers, no matter the performance space. The show, Arabian Nights, adapted by Gay Monteverde, sticks to the plot of the original collection of stories, One Thousand and One Nights, which has been retold many times in many different cultures. Now, the actors have added a bit of their own personalities to the characters to make them more relatable to the audience. 

The curtain opened on a traditional Persian dance. The picturesque scenes on the stage utilized a particularly colorful set of props and costumes. The dancers, with multicolored dresses, moved to the beat of the musicians in the background, around the intricately decorated sets, setting a playful and humorous tone for the rest of the play. After the dance, we immediately learn of the conflict. The vizier’s eldest daughter Scheherazade, played by Sara Lowe, is troubled by the brokenhearted king Shahryār: a hurt man convinced that all women will end up betraying him. Shahryār, portrayed by senior Juan Arroyo, vows to marry a new wife every night and have her executed the next morning. Scheherazade volunteers to marry the king, hoping that she can tell stories that will save the women of her country and heal Shahryār’s heart. She narrates a thousand different stories over  three years, each ending on a cliffhanger at dawn, forcing the king to postpone her execution until the next day. 

The actors in the ensemble impersonate the many characters of Scheherazade’s stories presented to the king. Their portrayals of the original folk tales are often dramatized with slapstick humor, but they also teach the moral lessons they were intended to. The stories heal the king’s heart and he finally falls in love with Scheherazade. He decides that they shall make their own story—one without an end. 

It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that being involved in a show at Washington is one of the hardest feats to accomplish imaginable. The actors and tech crew for Arabian Nights worked exceptionally hard building sets, rehearsing, and staying on campus for hours after the school day’s end. Even though the hours were long and the rehearsals were exhausting, if you ask anyone in the show, they will say that it was very much worth it.

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