Section: Arts

A Kenyon night becomes an Arabian Night

A Kenyon night becomes an Arabian Night

by India Amos

Upon marrying a powerful king, a new bride learns on her wedding night that her husband has a history of killing his wives. Quick on her feet, she begins to tell mesmerizing stories to her husband every night for 1,000 nights.

Significantly more than 1,001 nights later, the Kenyon College Dance and Drama Club (KCDC) is bringing its very own enthralling twist to the famous literary work One Thousand and One Nights. KCDC will present Mary Zimmerman’s The Arabian Nights to Kenyon the first weekend of April. Directed by Professor of Drama Jonathan Tazewell and stage-managed by Libby Gardner ’15, this play promises to be rich in music, humor and culture.

“The play is very entertaining and funny,” Tazewell wrote in an email. “The stories from the 1,001 Arabian Nights are well known, but those included here are not the most well known.”
In conjunction with the captivating tales, Tazewell looks to appeal to all the audience’s senses with his rendition of The Arabian Nights.

“I am interested in fantastic stories presented as plays. I like directing ensemble pieces that include music made on stage, because I perform a lot of live music and think it is a great theatrical convention,” he wrote. “I am also a big fan of multicultural and multi-ethnic work.”
Though these stories are often attributed to Arab culture, Tazewell was quick to point out that they are often drawn from the oral histories of India, Persia, Iraq, Turkey and other parts of the world.

“Some, in fact, were made up or added by European translators,” he wrote.
Since the play focuses on stories told from one individual to another, it naturally adopts a story-within-a-story feel. In addition, audience members can expect to be transported from Ohio to fascinating, long-ago lands of Persia and Arabia. Not only does the storyline hold promise of culture and music but it also possesses an overarching love story, which blossoms between lead characters Shahryar (Eddie Baxter ’15) and Scheherazade (Rachel Cunningham ’14).

While noting that the idea for performing The Arabian Nights was inspired by a former colleague, Tazewell, cast and crew are executing the play in a way that is entirely their own. In addition to breathtaking music and dance numbers, the audience can expect the cast members to put a personal touch on each of the characters they play.
Since most cast members play more than one role, The Arabian Nights is a showcase of their acting abilities, as well as their extra talents that could not be displayed if this were not so much of an ensemble performance.

By appealing to his audience’s musical and cultural senses, Tazewell looks to bring a diverse crowd to the Bolton Theater this weekend.
The Arabian Nights will premiere in the Bolton Theater this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale from Monday through Saturday and can be reserved by calling the box office from 1 to 5 p.m.

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