Tales from the Arabian Nights

Written by

Sparkling  play adaptation of this fabled first staged by Kim Carpenter's Theatre of Image.

Can be staged with a cast of six or a large community or school production with 33 roles to go around.

Short listed for an AWGIE award.

The King has beheaded his Queen and vowed to execute more, one by one at dawn.

Disguised as the next to die Shahrazad captivates the King with amazing stories about merchants,

fishermen, bandits, Kings and demons.

"Abela has clearly gone beyond the usual sources and adapted the best stories to suit this work, stories

that  effortlessly tell us much about human nature, morality, kindness and contemporary Australia.’
Judge’s comments, 2005 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

 

Photos

Plot / Synopsis

In this production of Tales From the Arabian Nights Shahrazad tells nightly magical stories to cruel King Shayrayar in order to save her life, and the life of the imprisoned Smuggles. The Smuggles are strangers who fled strife in their neighbouring land. When King Shahrayar refused to help them, his Queen secretly smuggled them into the kingdom. However, when King Shahrayar discovered this, he killed his Queen, and vowed to kill one Smuggle every morning until every last one is dead. Shahrazad disguises herself as a Smuggle, and is presented to the King as the next Smuggle due to die. The King torments her all night, but before dawn, Shahrazad tells him an intriguing story of the Shopkeeper and the Demon.

 

The Tale of the Shopkeeper and the Demon

 

A Shopkeeper waits in a haunted to orchard for a Demon who wants to kill him. A Man with a Deer and a Man with Two Dogs stumble upon him. The angry Demon appears, but before he can harm the Shopkeeper, the Man with a Deer offers to buy half of the shopkeeper's life with a story of how his wife became a deer. The Demon agrees.

 

The Tale of the Man with the Deer

 

The Man with the deer explains how he and his wife couldn’t have any children. So, with his wife’s permission, he took a second wife, and with her, had a beautiful baby boy. However, when his boy became a handsome young man, he suddenly disappeared. The Man was devastated, but when it was time for the Big Feast, he hid his tears, and asked the shepherdess to bring him a bull to slaughter. The shepherdess reveals that the Man’s jealous wife turned his son into this young bull, but she promises to turn him back into a man again, if she is allowed to marry him, and if she may turn the jealous wife into a deer. The Man agrees, is reunited with his son, and with the deer, celebrates his 50th wedding anniversary.

 

The Demon is satisfied by this story, and agrees to spare half of the Shopkeeper's life. But he still has to kill the other half. Then the Man with Two Dogs offers to buy the other half of the Shopkeeper's life with the story of how his two brothers became two dogs. The Demon agrees.

 

The Tales of the Man with Two Dogs

 

Every year, his two brothers begged the Man to sell everything in his shop and set sail with them on a big brotherly adventure. The Man refused for six years, but finally, he said yes. He sold everything in his shop, bought merchandise to sell in other cities, and the three brothers set sail. However, in the first port they visit, a beggar girl asks for help. The Man falls in love with her, and agrees to help her. They marry, and she comes aboard the ship as they set sail once again. The two brothers are jealous, and throw them both overboard. The Man is rescued from the choppy sea by a She-demon and taken back to his shop. The She-demon explains that she is his wife, that she disguised herself as a beggar girl to see if he was a kind soul. She wants to fly off and obliterate his brothers, but the Man asks her not too. So she turns them into dogs instead.

 

The Demon is satisfied by this story, and agrees to spare the other half of the Shopkeeper's life, and let him live.

 

The Tale of the Fisherman and the Demon

 

Shahrazad keeps the King intrigued, and her life spared for another night, with a tale of a hapless Fisherman who catches a shiny bottle in his net. A Demon has been locked in the bottle for thousands of years, and when the Fisherman accidentally releases him, the Demon plans to kill him, according to his vow to kill the person who breaks seal. The Fisherman tricks the Demon back into the bottle, but the Demon’s pleading stops the Fisherman from throwing the bottle back into the sea. The Fisherman explains that their situation reminds him of another tale.

 

The Tale of King Yunan and Professor Duban

 

King Yunan of Persia  had a terrible rash all over his body, and no doctor had been able to cure him. However, the clever Professor Duban cures the King without potion or ointment, by sending him into the street to play cricket with the peasants. The King is overjoyed, and wishes to reward the Professor and make him his life long friend. However, the King’s jealous Adviser convinces the King that if the Professor could cure him, he could just as easily kill him. King Yunan orders the professor’s head to be cut off, but first, the Professor gives the King a special book called the Secret of Secrets, and instructs the King to read the book after he has been executed. The professor’s head is chopped off, and the King flicks through the book, licking his fingers to turn the pages, ingesting the poisoned ink. The King destroyed rather than rewarded the Professor, and consequently dies.

 

The Demon promises to reward the Fisherman, not destroy him, and so the Fisherman releases him once more from the bottle. The Demon tells the Fisherman to cast his net into the sea again, and this time he catches pretty coloured fish. The Demon changes these fish back into people, and they crown the Fisherman, and make him the richest man of his time. 

 

The Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Bandits

 

Shahrazad keeps the King intrigued, and her life spared for many more nights. She tells him the tale of Ali Baba the poor woodchopper who accidentally came upon forty bandits hiding stolen treasure in a secret cave. Ali Baba sneaks into the cave and takes a small amount of treasure to alleviate his poverty. However, his greedy brother Qasim discovers this, and forces Ali Baba to tell him about the cave. Qasim runs to the cave, says Open Sesame, and runs in to grab as much treasure as he can carry. The Bandits arrives, and Qasim is cut into four pieces. When Qasim does not return home that night, Ali Baba fears the worst. He goes to the cave and brings the pieces of his brother’s body home to be buried. The bandits are angry that Qasim’s body is gone, because this means that someone else also knows their secret. The bandit captain disguises himself as a merchant, and asks for lodgings at Ali Baba’s house. However, Ali Baba’s daughter Majana discovers the bandits hiding in oil jars ready to jump out and kill them. The bandits meet a fiery death, and Majana saves the family from certain destruction.

 

Tales of the Calligrapher and the Demon.

 

Shahrazad’s final tale is about the son of the King of Baghdad, who is a master Calligrapher. The Calligrapher leaves to visit the King of India, however, on his way, he is robbed by bandits and left for dead. A tailor finds him and helps him. However, when the tailor releases that the Calligrapher is a foreigner, he reveals that he is a bad Demon, and turns the Calligrapher into an ape. The ape catches the attention of a passing ship. The ship lands and the captain offers to take him aboard. But just then, a messenger arrives, with a command that everyone must write a word for the King, because the King is looking for a new Calligrapher. The ape snatches the pen, and amazes everybody by writing poetry. The ape is dressed in fine robes and brought before the King. The ape reveals by writing that he is the King’s son, turned into an ape. His sister, and enchantress, summons the Demon. They fight, and the demon is defeated. She breaks the spell, transforms the ape back into her brother, and dies.

 

King Shahrayar is amazed, and moved by the wondrous things that he has heard from Shahrazad. She has transformed his rage into understanding and compassion. He sets the Smuggles free, grants the brave Shahrazad her life, and asks her to be his life long companion.

Cast

CHARACTERS
Note on pronunciation of Arabic words: All “R”s are rolled, as in the Spanish
language (not French), only slightly shorter. Every letter is pronounced; there
are no silent letters.
KING SHAHRAYAR {pron Shahrayaar}
QUEEN SAHAR {pron Sahhar}
ADVISER
FIRST EXECUTIONER
MOB AT COURT
SHAHRAZAD {pron Shahrazaad}
DINARZAD {pron Deenarzaad}
SMUGGLES LOCKED IN SEWER
SHOPKEEPER
A MAN WITH A DEER
A MAN WITH TWO BLACK DOGS
FIRST DEMON
DEER
YOUNG BULL / YOUNG MAN
SHEPHERDESS
FIRST DOGBROTHER
SECOND DOGBROTHER
PEOPLE OF THE HARBOUR
BEGGAR GIRL
FISHERMAN
SECOND DEMON
PROFESSOR DUBAN {pron Dubaan}
KING YUNAN {pron Yunaan}
FOUR COLOURED FISH
PEASANTS
ADVISER TO KING YUNAN
SECOND EXECUTIONER
ALI BABA
QASIM {pron Qaasim or Carsim}
BANDIT CAPTAIN
39 BANDITS
MAJANA {pron Majaana}
KING OF BAGHDAD
KING OF BAGHDAD'S DAUGHTER
CALLIGRAPHER
HIGHWAY ROBBERS
TAILOR
THIRD DEMON
SEA CAPTAIN
MERCHANT
MESSENGER
FINAL DEMON

Sample Script

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Production Costs

12.5% of Box office.