Theatre SC to present ‘The Arabian Nights’ Feb. 19-28
Theatre SC at the University of South Carolina will perform Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman’s “The Arabian Nights” Feb. 19 – 28 in Longstreet Theatre.
Show times are as follows: 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19; 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20; 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24; 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25; 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26; 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27; and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28.
Tickets are $16 for the public; $14 for military, USC faculty and staff; and $10 for students. Tickets are half price for the late-night performance Feb. 20. Tickets are available at the Longstreet box office, or by phone at 803-777-2551, beginning Feb. 12.
Guest artist Amy Boyce Holtcamp will direct an adaptation of Zimmerman’s popular 1923 English translation of “The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night” by Edward Mathers, a translation of European collection of stories stretching back several hundred years. The original stories, mostly Persian, have been passed down for nearly 2,000 years.
The play tells the tale of Persian King Shahryar. Angered by his first wife’s betrayal, he vows to marry a different virgin every night, then murder her the following dawn to prevent future infidelity. The plan continues until he meets Scheherazade, the maiden who cleverly postpones her fate by telling the king wondrous tales whose endings she withholds at daybreak each morning, thus delaying her execution.
“At the heart of this play is the idea that a story can save a life — literally,” said Holtcamp. “Scheherazade uses her storytelling ability to keep the king from killing her at dawn (as he has with 1,000 other brides). She is not only saving her life, but the lives of her people. She is determined to save her own life, yes, but also to put a stop to the cycle of brutality and killing that has ruled her land for three long years. So it’s a world where stories are powerful and have the ability to change people.”
Associate Professor Steven Sheehi, director of the university’s Arabic Program, has an advisory role in the production. The tales of “Aladdin,” “Ali-Baba and the 40 Thieves,” and “Sinbad” were popularized in western culture as part of “The Book of One Thousand Nights and One Night.”
Zimmerman’s version passes over these tales in favor of lesser-known stories, such as the tale of “The Wonderful Bag.” In this story, two characters fight over a bag they have found on the street, both claiming ownership. A judge enters and makes the two characters enumerate the contents of the bag to prove ownership. The descriptions the two characters give, and the resulting arguments, will be completely improvised each night by the actors. And each night of the performance, a different set of actors will play the fighting characters. The actors will not know until the night of each performance who will be in that night’s scene.
Note: The play contains adult situations and may not be suitable for children.
For more information on “The Arabian Nights” or other Theatre SC productions, contact Kevin Bush at 803-777-9353 or firstname.lastname@example.org.