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‘Arabian Nights’ at Lake Braddock

Lake Braddock students perform culturally-rich classic.

In Lake Braddock Secondary School’s production of The Arabian Nights, Elspeth Ripley, 14, as Dunyazade and Elena Dominquez, 18, as Scheherezade plead with captor Shahryar, portrayed by Tony Talcott, 14 to spare Scheherezade’s  life.

In Lake Braddock Secondary School’s production of The Arabian Nights, Elspeth Ripley, 14, as Dunyazade and Elena Dominquez, 18, as Scheherezade plead with captor Shahryar, portrayed by Tony Talcott, 14 to spare Scheherezade’s life. Photo by David Massarik

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In Lake Braddock Secondary School’s production of The Arabian Nights, the belly dancers are punishing the Madman because he scorned Perfect Love, the lead dancer. (Perfect Love is played by Sarah Fick and the Madman by Nick Edwards).

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Elspeth Ripley, 14, as Dunyazade is comforted by Scheherezade (Elena Dominquez) in Lake Braddock Secondary School’s performance of The Arabian Nights.

Don’t expect Disney’s "Aladdin" in Lake Braddock Secondary School’s production of "The Arabian Nights."

The costumes are lavish; the set is striking; and, yes, there are even belly dancers. But this performance of "The Arabian Nights" relies less on cartoonish cultural stereotypes and more on a multi-layered interpretation of Arabic culture.

Director R. L. Mirabal said the 40 students in the performance were enthused about the chance to explore a culture of peace and tolerance that "has often been incorrectly labeled as violent and evil."

"This production of ‘The Arabian Nights’ is motivated by a desire to balance the truth of the Arabic culture with the image that is sometimes depicted by our current society," Mirabal said.

"The Arabian Nights" is a classic collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian folk tales collected over centuries by various Islamic authors, scholars and translators. First performed in English in 1706, the work usually includes the ruler Shahryar, from Persian meaning "sovereign," and his wife, Scheherazade, meaning "of noble lineage."

The Arabian Nights stories are framed within other tales – stories within stories. Some contain only a few hundred nights, while others include 1,001 or more.

"I like the framework of this play. It’s more like the film ‘Inception,’ with a lot of unusual aspects and layers," said senior Elena Dominguez, 18, who plays Scheherazade, the beautiful heroine who is sentenced to die at sunrise.

When the play begins, Scheherazade is desperate to devise a plan to escape her fate. She regales her captor, Shahryar (played by freshman Tony Talcott, 14) with tales of romance, heroism, comedy and betrayal all night long. By cleverly leaving Shahryar in suspense at the end of each evening, Scheherazade is able to win a reprieve for another day.

When and Where

Showtimes are Thursday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, April 27 at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, April 28 at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Lake Braddock Secondary School, 9200 Burke Lake Road in Burke.

Tickets are $10 in advance at www.lbtheatre.com or $11 at the door.

The question is, can she continue her enchanting stories for 1,001 nights to save herself?

"I think there’s something for everyone in this play. There’s comedy, dancing, singing… It’s magical and fantastic," Dominguez said.