@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
 

Arabian Nights

Adapted by Dominic Cooke , directed by Karen Caroe

  • From Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves Front (L to R:) Tiffany Tyson, Marco Salazar, Heath Tjaden, Adolpho Enriquez III, Heather Hosford Rear (L to R:) Rebekah Rubalcava, Stephen Caroe, Grady Easterling
  • (L to R:) From Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Rebekah Rubalcava, Heath Tjaden, Tiffany Tyson and Stephen Caroe
  • (L to R:) From Es-Sinibad the Sailor,Rebekah Rubalcava, Adolpho Enriquez III, Marco Salazar, Heather Hosford Devin Blackwell, Micah Glidewell, Grady Easterling, Tiffany Tyson and Stephen Caroe
  • (L to R:) Rebekah Rubalcava (Dinerzad) and Devin Blackwell (Queen Shahrazad)
  • (L to R:) Devin Blackwell (Queen Shahrazad) and Grady Easterling (King Shahrayar)
  • (L to R:) Rebekah Rubalcava (Dinerzad), Heath Tjaden (Vizier) and Devin Blackwell (Queen Shahrazad)
  • (L to R:) From The Envious Sisters, Grady Easterling, Heath Tjaden, Tiffany Tyson and Rebekah Rubalcava
  • (L to R:) From The Little Beggar, Tiffany Tyson, Stephen Caroe, Devin Blackwell, Marco Salazar, Rebekah Rubalcava, Grady Easterling, Micah Glidewell and Heath Tjaden
  • (L to R:) From The Envious Sisters, Adolpho Enriquez III, Devin Blackwell, Rebekah Rubalcava and Stephen Caroe
  • (L to R:) From TheStory Without an Ending, Grady Easterling, Devin Blackwell and Rebekah Rubalcava
  • (L to R:) From The Prologue, Grady Easterling, Marco Salazar, Adolpho Enriquez III, Stephen Caroe and Tiffany Tyson,
  • (L to R:) From From Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves , Tiffany Tyson, Grady Easterling, Adolpho Enriquez III, and Devin Blackwell
  • (L to R:) From The Wife Who Wouldn't Eat, Stephen Caroe, Rebekah Rubalcava, Devin Blackwell, Grady Easterling and Tiffany Tyson
  • (L to R:) From The Little Beggar , Adolpho Enriquez III, Heath Tjaden, Stephem Caroe, Heather Hosford, Marco Salazar, Grady Easterling, Devin Blackwell and Micah Glidewell
  • From The Story Without an End: Adolpho Enriquez III, Stephen Caroe, Tiffany Tyson, Grady Easterling, Rebekah Rubalcava, Marco Salazar, Devin Blackwell, Micah Glidewell, Heather Hosford and Heath Tjaden

Jun 05-Jun 21, 2015

FRI JUN 5,12,19 | 8:00 PM
SAT JUN 6,13,20 | 8:00 PM
SUN JUN 14,21,28* | 2:30 PM
THRS JUN 18 | 7:00 PM
* RUN EXTENDED

Description

Arabian Nights is a celebration of the power of storytelling. Enter the imagination of the beautiful and clever Queen Shahrazad as she takes us on her life-and-death journey through a dazzling array of stories. We meet the queen on her wedding night in the palace of King Shahrayar. The king's heart has been darkened by betrayal and Shahrazad, like a thousand young brides before her, will be put to death the next morning. Unlike her misfortunate predecessors, Shahrazad has the one gift that might save her life: the gift of storytelling. Shahrazad draws the King into a fantastical world where he meets such characters as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Es- Sindibad the Sailor, Abu Hassan, and a plethora of other characters. With her mischievous imagination, Shahrazad brings life to talking birds, singing trees, and golden fountains. She calls each of us to put aside the cares of our own world, if only for a few moments, and join our imaginations to hers

Director's Note

Arabian Nights is a play about the relationship between a bright, clever young woman and the dark-hearted king who becomes her husband. Arabian Nights is also a collection of stories told by the young woman as a matter of life or death. The biggest challenge for me, as a director, was to reconcile the art of theater with the art of storytelling. There are several fundamental differences between them. In a play, actors honor the concept of a fourth wall that separates them from their audience. Actors generally interact with one another via a script that is interpreted largely by the director as part of a comprehensive vision for the play. Actors are aided by props and costumes and, generally, are responsible for fully developing a single character. Storytellers, on the other hand, interact with the audience and adjust their stories accordingly. They portray a story's characters through a change in vocal quality and movement without the benefit of costumes and props. Lastly, a storyteller is not directed by someone else. She interprets her story as she is telling it.

Dominic Cooke's script is written in the narrative of a storyteller, but is intended to be directed and acted as a theatrical event. At every rehearsal we asked ourselves, "Are we staying true to the narrative of the stories while acting out the play?" Dena Hurab's set design is reminiscent of a child's pop-up story book while Andrea Severson's costume designs provide bursts of color that bring out the pictures on the page. Sierra Landrum spent hours researching, designing, and applying henna tattoos to all of us and Peter Herman sets the tone of each story with his remarkable lighting design. This has been a wonderfully creative journey with some very talented young people and I think the end result embraces the best of theater and of storytelling and morphs those into an entertaining event that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

It is my hope that our production will wash away the cares of life for a couple of hours. Watch a play, hear some stories, have some fun. Now sit back, relax, and listen.

Credits

Dinerzad
King Shahrayar
King Shahrayar's Vizier
Queen Shaharazad
Storyteller
Storyteller
Storyteller
Storyteller
Storyteller
Storyteller
Adapted By
Choreographer
Director

Reviews

June brings new theater productions to Las Cruces
- Bulletin Staff Report, Las Cruces Bulletin [ Original Article ]

'Arabian Nights,' a storytelling adventure, opens at Black Box
- By S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News [ Original Article ]

LAS CRUCES >> Dominic Cooke's adaptation of the legendary "Arabian Nights" opens Friday and runs through June 21 at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.

"The play is a celebration of the power of storytelling," said Ceil Herman, who along with her husband Peter, owns the Black Box Theatre and No Strings Theatre Company.

The audience is invited to "enter the imagination of the beautiful and clever Queen Shahrazad as she takes us on her life-and-death journey through a dazzling array of stories. We meet the queen on her wedding night in the palace of King Shahrayar. The king's heart has been darkened by betrayal and Shahrazad, like a thousand young brides before her, will be put to death the next morning. Shahrazad has the one gift that might save her life: the gift of storytelling. Shahrazad draws the King into a fantastical world where he meets Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Es-Sindibad the Sailor, Abu Hassan, and a plethora of other characters. With her mischievous imagination, Shahrazad brings life to talking birds, singing trees and golden fountains. She calls each of us to put aside the cares of our own world, if only for a few moments, and join our imaginations to hers," according to a synopsis provided by the show's producers.

Starring are Devin Blackwell as Queen Shahrazad, Grady Easterling as King Shahrayar, Rebekah Rubalcava as the queen's loyal little sister, Dinerzad, and Heath Tjaden as the king's vizier, Stephen Caroe. The cast also includes Adolofo Enriquez III, Micah Glidewell, Heather Hosford, Marco Salazar and Tiffany Tyson.

Director Karin Caroe said newcomer Blackwell is a standout.

"She came to auditions and she was really our first choice from the beginning. She's strong, but cute and gentle at the same time. She embraces all the qualities you would expect Shahrazad to have," Caroe said.

"Dena Hurab's set design is reminiscent of a child's pop-up book while Andrea Severson's costumes provide colorful bursts of light and darkness well-suited to Shahrazad's colorful imagination. The lighting design, by Peter Herman, creates the mood for each of Shahrazad's stories and gently guides us in and out of her imagination. Each story comes alive through voice and movement with a few simple props," Ceil Herman said.

"I like to do ensemble productions where you have some of the people who create a lot of different roles, and become props and set pieces themselves. It's a lot of fun because we have so much talent in Las Cruces and I get to work with so many creative juices flowing at one time," Caroe said.

Those attending the play - and the attitudes and imagination they bring with them - are also a crucial part of the production.

"The most fascinating part of this production is what the audience brings to each story. There are stories within stories of the frame story and layers of meanings to be discerned. The power of any story to make you laugh, cry, fear or wonder is always in how much you will allow yourself to willingly suspend disbelief," Caroe said.

The audience will be asked to offer some literal help, as well.

"I don't want to give away the surprises, but we'll be asking them to do some things, to help out in some scenes with sound effects and props. We ask them to hold some things and participate and get involved in the story," said Caroe, who said he feels the production is suitable for all ages.

"It's going to be a great family show. There are no bad words and no kissing, but there are two instances of potty humor, which little boys should love. And who doesn't love a great story? These are stories anybody can understand," Caroe said.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, at 2:30 p.m. Sundays, June 14 and 21, with one Thursday show at 7 p.m. June 18. Tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors over 65, and $8 for all seats on Thursdays. For reservations, call 575-523-1223.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.

'Arabian Nights' has one thousand and one charms
- By Marissa Bond, Las Cruces Bulletin

What is the power of a story? Can it restore laughter, heal or even save a life?


"Arabian Nights," currently playing at the Black Box Theatre, is full of magic, humor and charm, but in its coy whimsy it examines the power of storytelling through the medium of theatre.

The most unique aspect of the play is the style in which it is written, where the dialogue is recited as one storyteller's voice from many different characters. Even the framing device is presented in this fashion, so while the play begins and ends with legendary storyteller Shahrazad, it seems that the story is being told from someone else. This is fitting not only for the piecemeal accumulation of the source material, but also the role of the actor as part of the story, even while playing a storyteller.

The director's notes described the set inspiration as a children's pop-up picture book, and set designer Dena Hurab's work captures the feeling perfectly. The multileveled steps outlined with black pop out toward the audience in the intimate space, and the many varied shapes of the levels seems built with children's-book logic.

The play is most powerful in its ability to use simple props and, through cunning design or well-rehearsed acting, convey diverse things and places - a cloak, then a cave, then a pot. The staging was extremely effective, weaving a cross-legged stride over the divide between choreography and blocking. Actual choreography was required as well, including a belly dance and a fullcast arrangement, aptly choreographed by Lydia Caroe.

Each actor played many characters, and the roles demanded that the entire cast be talented and capable. More than most shows, it is an ensemble cast, and director Karen Caroe did an excellent job of choosing actors that work well together and can handle the difficult task of holding characters like the desert holds sands - always mutably, unconcerned by the change.

Devin Blackwell played the storyteller Shahrazad, and Rebekah Rubalcava her younger sister Dinarzad. Heath Tjaden played their father, the vizier to the king Sharayar, performed by Grady Easterling. The company comprised the talents of Stephen Caroe, Adolfo Enriquez III, Micah Glidewell, Heather Hosford, Marco Salazar and Tiffany Tyson. All were enchanting in their many roles, making the wide range of characters believable while threading a consistent tone of humor and whimsy throughout the play.

A wealth of young talent comprises Caroe's cast, a wise choice to bridge the appeal between adults and the very young, capable as they are of bringing high energy and infectious enthusiasm. And the enthusiasm must be infectious - the play utilizes audience participation. Audience members, particularly those sitting close to the stage, should be prepared to shout, throw things and maybe have a short cameo.

"Arabian Nights" is a show for all ages. Absolutely bring the children - this a good show to get young ones interested not only in the theatre arts but also history and literature - the source material, a collection of folk tales titled "One Thousand and One Nights," contains more stories than can fit in one evening's entertainment.

Finding a good evening of local entertainment that successfully bridges generations is rare. "Arabian Nights" succeeds in that aim effectively and delightfully - it can captivate the young and not-so-young alike.

"Arabian Nights" runs through Sunday, June 21, at the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St. Performances are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 18. Tickets are $12 regular admission, $10 for students and seniors; all seats on Thursday are $8. For more information or to make reservations, call the Black Box Theatre at 523-1223.

Marissa Bond can be reached at 6801845 or marissa@lascrucesbulletin.com.

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