On Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th June eighty nine students participated in the Secondary School production of ‘Arabian Nights’. During the performance the audience were treated to a fabulous explosion of colour, costumes and lights, whilst Shahrazad played by Holly (Year 8) narrated the series of ancient Arabic stories. Holly was skillfully supported by Amelia (Year 9) who played Shahrazad’s little sister Dinarzad and on whose insistence the stories were told. Hadi (Year 9) and Suhani (Year 9) portrayed King Shahrayar and his Vizier with a maturity well beyond their years.
Amongst the many highlights were the 40 thieves fearlessly led by their captain Erwan (Year 7), the hilarity of the huge fart by Abu Hassan played by Thomas (Year 7) and the beautiful dancing by Lara (Year 7) as she played the cunning slave girl Marjanah.
As Shahrazad wove her magical stories they were expertly brought to life by this young cast who had been rehearsing since January. A special mention must go to the dancers who performed with mesmerizing precision to bring to life the wonderful choreography of Ms. Fairchild and Ms. Morgan. The simplicity in the staging and direction of the play ensured that the audience were transported to the worlds of the different stories. This performance was truly an enchanting night of skillful storytelling. A huge congratulations to all involved!
May I have permission to tell a story. My Lord?
The story told in this year's Secondary production traces much of its origins back over a thousand years to the Islamic Golden Age when it was referred to in its native Arabic as Alf Layla Wa Layla, or One Thousand and One Nights.
The tales from either lost or anonymous authors incorporate Arabic, Egyptian, Persian and Indian storytelling traditions of ancient and medieval times and each story existed as a separate legend before scribes and tellers began to gather them into a single collection by the 15th Century. It has now come to be known as Arabian Nights.
Our version took its cue from Dominic Cooke’s adaptation produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Due to the challenging and physical nature of the piece, the show is normally performed by much older actors, but I must say it has been a delight to encourage the cast to work as such a dynamic ensemble, well beyond their years.
This is a production which warmly invites the audience to fire up their imaginations using a riotous mix of slapstick, fun, invention and creativity whilst always remembering to keep the important moral messages alive and at the centre of these stories:
Speak the truth. Support your friends. Love your family. Forgive.
Ideas and themes still vitally important a thousand years on and all of this framed around the tense and thrilling story of a young girl trying desperately to delay her fate. Can the power of storytelling save her life?