Is this the time for stories?
This is the perfect time for stories. Stories show us how to overcome, to triumph. Even over death.
From Aladdin to Sinbad, genies and flying carpets, you all know the magical stories of the Arabian Nights. But what do you know of the storyteller, the quest for survival, and the vital magic woven by these fantastical yarns? Scheherazade mjust rely on her wits, skill, and creative flair to build a wondrous world in order to save her life. These tales are full of wishes made real, terror and joy, and magical transformations… but can they change a woman’s fate?
The production was directed by Soph Jacobs-Wyburn, produced by Alex Duarte-Davies, and the production photography was by Chelsey Cliff. Full company details can be found at the foot of this page. Please email for more information.
Rima/Father/Officer – Alex Robson
Talia/Crew – Axel Bode
Kinda/Executioner – Amelia King
Cherin/Alba – Anna Roberts
Miriam/Doctor’s Partner – Austin McClelland Jenkins
Nabil/Fisherman – Campbell Maddox
Iliyas/Young Man/King – Charles Johnson
Shay/Enchantress – Cleo Kelley
Neena/Chef – Daisy Jackson
King Ouzi/Aziza/Hunchback – Eliana Woosnam
Safa/Moh – Elif Defne Sertoglu
Vizier/Sami – Emmie Raine
Rami/Tailor/Puppeteer – Ethan Willis
Taser/Abu – Harry Bradley
Samed/Djinni – Iyshea Hender
Dessa/Crew – Kitty Allen
Sana/Officer – Lily Davies-Potter
Rana/Mother – Madeleine Foster
Zade – Matilda Broadbridge
Lana/Princess – Maya Sparks
Taj/Prince – Oliver Jerram
Hadi/Doctor/Puppeteer – Rachel Raynes
Hiba/Crew – Rohan Piper-Filluzeau
Maher/Prince – Sam Williams
Annas/Merchant – Sammy Pauna
Ziya/Bodyguard/Sultan – Sophie Hart
Kareem/Ape/Djinn/Puppeteer – Stevie Saunders
Tarek/Tailor’s Partner – Arthur Morris
Doctor Greco/Shah – Yves Morris
Assistant Stage Managers – Luca Roth, Fiona Eddy & Felix Ormrod
LX Operator – Anthony Nightingale
Sound Operator – Gina-Mae Ellis
Wardrobe Assistant and Dresser- Katie Glassbrook, Olivia Payne & Anja Woosnam
The stories we tell have never felt more important. In an age of fake news, inctant connection, rolling newsfeeds and a growing sense of a global community; what we chosose to share, and how, has taken on a life beyond anything we can easily predit or control. The way in which we tell stories is also changing at a rapid pace – gone are the days of campfire stories and verbal histories, replaced by our own inventiveness. And yet our love of the ritual of story still persists. Bedtime stories still occupy a special foothold in childhood memories, dissecting the latest episode of the current TV hit is as important as having watched it and, of course, we still gather in the dark to hear practised storytellers welcome us into the worlds they have built for our entertainment, on stage and screen.
In our Arabian Nights we have grappled directly with this ebb and flow, and tried to explore the purpose of story in our development both as individuals and as communities. We have discovered how a tale can hold us together – rooting us in a time or place. We have watched as they challenge our ideas of right or wrong, or black and white world pictures, and let the grey areas seep through. Most of all, we have all experienced the joy of discovery – of new fantastical worlds, and fictional characters who feel like flesh-and-bone lost friends. We have found so much laughter amongst so much uncertainty, that I find, yet again, my hope for a joyful loving world restored by an excellent group of young people.
I am so incredibly fortunate in my work, to be surrounded by inspiring, talented people. Never is this more prominent than when I am working directly with the next generation of theatre makers. The company of Arabian Nights have proven themselves not only assured, talented creatives, but generous, thoughtful and dedicated individuals. It has been a privilege to go on this journey with them; to hear their voices ringing out so clearly, and see them take the space that is rightfully theirs.
We can all rest, knowing the art of storytelling is most certainly alive and well!
Assistant Director’s Notes
This year’s Summer Company has been wild! We have been handed a gold mine of characters bursting with personality, as well as colourful stories that are both bizarre and yet hold meaning and moral, if you take the time to read between the lines. we have created a world together that can, through it’s teal world inspiration, be relatable and is able to act as a voice for those less fortunate.
This world has been brought to life by the powerless youth who have so much they want to say. We are giving a new angle, a new younger perspective that isn’t going to be ignored anymore.
The attitudes of these characters and the design of this show takes great inspiration from the numerous crises that have happened and are happening all around the world. Refugees, evacuees, children forced to give up their childhoods due to the irresponsible actions of those in power.
I think if there is one thing everyone can relate to, it’s that children like stories. Children are imaginative and so they need to play. That’s why, during our rehearsal period, Sophie decided it would be interesting for the company to tell stories to each other every day – so that we can explore what makes a storyteller and how stories are told. Stories, of course, being a major part of this production.
Arabian Nights is often referred to by another name – 1001 Nights. So when Alex and Sophie first approached me to write an adaptation, I was a little bit daunted. 1001 nights means 1001 stories – just reading it was going to be a massive undertaking, let alone finding a way to fit a thousand stories (and a plot framing them) into two hours! Of course, we haven’t actually done that. The stories in Arabian Nights are rich, magical, and full of important lessons but, more important than them, is the storyteller. Scheherazade may seem very different in our version, but at her core she’s the same. This is a girl who is willing to sacrifice everything to keep other people safe, who uses stories to help those around her to grow and heal, and find who they are. In the original version she does this for the Sultan, in ours she does it for the children in the haven.
I’m in the very fortunate position that going in, I knew some of the members of Summer Company. I therefore knew that I could write a script in exactly the way I would for a group of professional actors – with ambiguity and complexity and unanswered questions (including things like how to turn a monkey into a djinni on stage) – and they would be more than capable of handling it. They’ve spent the past two and half weeks proving me right. It’s been a joy to watch them (helmed by Sophie, a writer’s dream of a director) fill out the world that has been in my head for so long now, and add to it in ways I would never have thought of on my own.
So, settle in for a version of Arabian Nights you haven’t seen before – still full of stories that aren’t trying to change the world, but hoping to change some people. Welcome to Zade’s Haven…
Producer – Alex Duarte-Davies
Director – Soph Jacobs-Wyburn
Assistant Director – Luke Ashley
Movement Director – Emile Clarke
Designer – Caitlin Abbott
Costume Supervisor – Rachel Birch
Production Manager – Becky Vowles
Stage Manager – James Lisk
Lighting Design – Lloyd Evans
Sound Designer – Dinah Mullen
Deputy Stage Manager – Sam Smith
Head Chaperone – Matt Sterling
With special thanks to; Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Avon Scouts and all of the loved ones of company members for their support.
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